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Freemasonry Watch

More UK troops may be sent to Afghanistan

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More UK troops may be sent to Afghanistan

By James Kirkup in Bucharest

04 Apr 2008

President George Bush and Gordon Brown

There did not seem to be great chemistry between President George Bush and Gordon Brown at the start of the summit in Bucharest

Gordon Brown is preparing to send hundreds more British troops to Afghanistan, taking the numbers there above 8,000 for the first time.

Afghanistan 'surge' will test Obama's military muscleThe Prime Minister is currently considering advice from the Ministry of Defence to increase the force amid concern that Britain's Nato allies are still not doing enough to support the international mission.

The additional forces would be mainly intended to bolster reconstruction and development work with some soldiers helping train the Afghan National Army and support the Afghan police.

At present, there are 47,000 Nato troops in Afghanistan from more than 40 countries.

However, the lion's share of the most dangerous work is done by Britain, the US, Canada and Denmark.

At the Nato summit in Bucharest, France confirmed that it will send around 1,000 more troops.

They will deploy in the relatively stable east of the country, allowing US Marines to move to the turbulent south where British forces are based.

The French pledge was enough to persuade the Canadians to back down from a threat to pull their forces out of southern Afghanistan, something commanders say would have seriously undermined the Nato mission.

But British military insiders said that France and other European nations are still insisting upon "caveats" - conditions as to where their forces can be deployed and in what operations they can take part.

"There has been no substantial progress on the caveats yet, which is unfortunate," said a senior British military source, adding that such conditions only add to the burden on Britain. "The more that others do, the less pressure there is on us to do these things."

Ninety-one British personnel have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001. The current force numbers about 7,800.

A Downing Street spokesman said that British troop numbers are under "constant review."

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