Monday, Nov 16th, 2009
Despite reports of the UK’s plan for peace talks with the Taliban, Premier Gordon Brown defends Britain’s military involvement in the Afghan war, saying his country must play a full role in ‘changing the world’.
“I believe that Britain can and must play its full part in changing the world,” the British prime minister said Monday.
“Britain can lead in the construction of a new world order,” he said in a speech, extracts of which have been released by Downing Street.
Supporting the UK’s military mission in the war-torn country, Brown said more has been planned in 2009 and “enacted with greater success” to cripple al-Qaeda than in any year since 2001.
“So I vigorously defend our action in Afghanistan and Pakistan because al-Qaeda is today the biggest source of threat to our national security,” he noted.
The premier is set to give his annual foreign policy speech to the London Lord Mayor’s banquet at Guildhall on Monday evening.
The US, with cooperation of its European allies including Britain, invaded Afghanistan in 2001 to allegedly eradicate the Taliban and arrest militant leaders.
But more than eight years after the so-called war on terrorism began, a leaked memo has revealed that the British government has been seeking reconciliation with Taliban’s leadership council based in the Pakistani city of Quetta.
Britain’s state television BBC reported on Saturday that the memo proposed that “reconciled” Taliban should be removed from the UN sanctions list.
After the beginning of the war, Taliban leader Mullah Omar and al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden fled to Quetta, where they received the support of Pakistani security officials.
The eight-year-old war in Afghanistan has so far failed to kill or arrest the main militant commanders.
Brown, who is tipped to lose a general election to the opposition Conservatives due by June, is under tense pressure at home as public support for the war is waning.
According to the latest opinion poll, an increasing majority of Britons want the country’s 9,000 troops out of Afghanistan within a year.
Some 71 percent of Britons would back a phased withdrawal of British forces within 12 months, a poll conducted by the Independent showed on Sunday.
In the latest casualty on Sunday, a British soldier was killed while on foot patrol in southern Afghanistan, taking the death toll to 233.
This article was posted: Monday, November 16, 2009 at 4:48 am