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    Brown hopeful over Afghan boost




    Gordon Brown has said he is hopeful he will be able to persuade countries both in and outside Nato to send more military personnel to Afghanistan.The prime minister said he had "taken responsibility" for making the case for reinforcing the Afghan effort and believed "burden sharing will happen".

    He told the BBC the UK strategy was "in line" with that of the US, which is considering how many troops to send.

    And he rejected talks with the Taliban, saying this could not be a "Plan B".

    'Right strategy'

    The focus of the mission, he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme, was to strengthen Afghan institutions so they were able to take control of their own affairs and "resist the threat of extreme terrorism".




    "Our strategy is now in the right place"


    Gordon Brown

    This would eventually enable British forces to come home knowing that it was a "job well done", the prime minister added.

    "Our strategy is now in the right place," he said.

    "We are having some success. There is a lot more that we have to do."

    Britain has 9,000 troops in Afghanistan and the UK is willing to send another 500, if others provide their "fair share".

    The UK wants countries in the alliance - excluding the US - and other allies to send a further 5,000 troops.

    The prime minister said he was "sending people" across Europe and further afield to make the case for more troops, with Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth lobbying the existing 43 nations in the coalition.

    US President Barack Obama is yet to decide whether to bolster his 70,000-strong force by up to 40,000.

    His top military commander in Afghanistan, Gen Stanley McChrystal, is said to have requested that figure, although Defence Secretary Robert Gates is said to favour 30,000.

    Mr Brown said he believed that Mr Obama's views were very much "in line" with the proposals put forward by the general.

    However, Karl Eikenberry, the US ambassador in Kabul, has voiced concerns - shared by many of Mr Obama's advisers - about a surge in numbers in a bid to defeat the Taliban.

    'No firm commitments'

    He has complained of corruption in the war-torn state and said sending substantially more soldiers was "not a good idea".

    About 71,000 personnel make up the International Security Assistance Force, of which half are American.




    FROM THE TODAY PROGRAMME

    More from Today programme

    The US has another 36,000 military personnel in Afghanistan, operating as part of a separate mission against global terrorism.

    The UK's presence is the second-largest of any nation. Mr Brown was the first international leader to commit additional troops and now wants to see others follow suit.



    But BBC political correspondent Ross Hawkins said: "They are likely to want to wait for a decision from Washington before making firm commitments."

    After meeting Mr Brown at Downing Street on Thursday, Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen welcomed Britain's pledge of 500 extra personnel and encouraged all allies to "step up to the plate and provide more resources".

    He said he shared Mr Eikenberry's concerns but added the allies should commit to more training for Afghan forces.

    "We are in Afghanistan for the sake of our own security and therefore we should stay committed and stay for as long as it takes to finish the job," Mr Fogh Rasmussen added.

    He was speaking hours before a blast rocked one of the main Nato bases in Kabul, injuring soldiers and civilians.

    Mr Obama, meanwhile, has stressed the need for his commanders to work on an exit strategy to make clear US support "is not open-ended".


    Much of the work being done by troops involves training the Afghan National Army, which numbers more than 90,000 and will increase to 134,000 by next October.
    I said in search of my botni, not in search of my bhootni. Please stop sending me PMs.
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