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Cameron: troops 'can't' be in Afghanistan in 2015

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 25 June 2010

Prime Minister David Cameron says he does not want British troops to be in Afghanistan by the time of the next election, and tells ITN it will "be a difficult summer" as the latest four British soldiers killed in a road accident in Helmand are named.

British flag in Afghanistan (credit: Getty images)

Mr Cameron was speaking in Canada, ahead of his meeting with other world leaders at the G8 and G20 Muskoka summit.  He was asked whether British forces should be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the next general election, expected to be in 2015.

"We can't be there for another five years, having been there for nine years already,” he said.

"But one thing we should be clear about - Britain should have a long-term relationship with Afghanistan, including helping to train their troops and their civil society, long after the vast bulk of troops have gone home."

Afghanistan is expected to be on the agenda when Mr Cameron meets Barack Obama tomorrow.

Mr Cameron's aides later insisted he did not want to commit to a deadline or a timetable of when troops should withdraw.

The prime minister said today: "I prefer not to see it in strict timetables.

But his comments follow his comment to MPs two weeks ago, when he said: "Our forces will not remain in Afghanistan a day longer than is necessary and I want to bring them home the moment it is safe to do so." 

More Channel 4 News coverage of Afghanistan
-Afghan casualties: number of UK payouts 'treble'
-Four more troops killed as David Cameron warns of difficult summer ahead
-Civilian life crippled by Afghan war
-Afghanistan: the challenges ahead for Petraeus

Mr Cameron also admitted to ITN that British troops could face tough opposition from the Taliban over the coming months:

"It will be a difficult summer, there is no doubt about that.

"But (that's) partly because we are doing so much more with the Americans in Helmand province, with hundreds of thousands of troops rather than the few thousand we used to have and it's making a big difference.

"It will be a difficult summer, but we are getting to a period where parts of Afghanistan can now be run by the Afghans themselves. That is a very exciting prospect for bringing our troops home."

Cameron was also asked about Barack Obama’s sacking of the most senior soldier in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal and his replacement with General David Petraeus: 

"I don't believe necessarily that the change that took place at the headquarters at ISAF will have direct impact on the street here in Helmand - possibly never, certainly not for a while,"

Four dead British soldiers named
There are around 10,000 British troops stationed in Afghanistan currently.
Earlier today, the Ministry of Defence named the four soldiers who were recently killed when their vehicle crashed near Gereshk in Helmand Province.

Three were from the 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment: Colour Sergeant Horton, 34, Private Douglas Halliday from Merseyside and Private Alex Isaac, 20, from the Wirral,

The full list of British soldiers killed in Afghanistan since 2001
-Afghanistan casualties in full

The fourth soldier was Lance Corporal David Ramsden, 26, from Leeds.

The accident in which the men died was the second in two months involving a UK Ridgeback falling into the Nahr-e Bughra canal.

Lance Corporal Barry Buxton, 27, of 21 Engineer Regiment, died when a road collapsed and his vehicle rolled into the waterway on May 3.

The latest deaths took the number of British troops who have died in the Afghan campaign to 307.


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