British PM warns Taliban
AFGHANISTAN: British Prime Minister David Cameron warned the
Taliban Thursday that the international community would continue to
support the Afghan government after NATO troops pull out in 2014.
Cameron told a press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in
Kabul that a NATO conference in Chicago and a donors conference in Tokyo
had recently shown the West's commitment to the war-torn country.
"I think this sends a very clear message to the Taliban: that you
cannot wait this out until foreign forces leave in 2014, because we will
be firm friends and supporters of Afghanistan long beyond then.
"So now is the time for everyone to participate in a peaceful
political process in Afghanistan." Karzai said the peace process was
"the most important goal that we pursue".
He and Cameron will later meet Raja Pervez Ashraf, the new prime
minister of Pakistan, whose intelligence agency Kabul accuses of
supporting the Taliban.
"This meeting is to see how we could intensify the Pakistan role in
the Afghan peace process," Karzai said.
Cameron said the "terrorists" who were trying to destablise
Afghanistan were also trying to destablise Pakistan.
The first meeting between the three leaders comes as Britain, along
with its NATO allies, prepares to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan
by the end of 2014. Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have
traditionally suffered from distrust and mutual blame for the Taliban
violence that plagues both countries.
Kabul has asked Islamabad to assist efforts to broker a peace deal
with the Taliban, whose leaders have traditionally had close ties to
Pakistan, but the militia has said it broke off contacts with the
Americans and refuses to talk to Karzai's government. Cameron also
signed a deal to build an officers' training academy modelled on
Britain's Sandhurst as Afghan forces take over increasing responsibility
for the fight against Taliban insurgents. On Wednesday, Cameron visited
troops in the southern province of Helmand, where British forces are
based. Britain has around 9,500 troops in Afghanistan, making it the
second-largest contributor to NATO's US-led 130,000-strong International
Security Assistance Force, which is due to withdraw by the end of 2014.