British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has urged the international community to share the workload of military operations in Afghanistan. He spoke after talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Downing Street. Brown said: “We have put the Taliban on the defensive by the combined efforts of everyone. At the same time our strategy for the future is development, defence and diplomacy, all three working together.”
With 7,700 soldiers, Britain provides around a fifth of the NATO force in Afghanistan. The US has some 17,000 troops there, making up nearly half of the force. There are significant Dutch and Canadian fighting forces, but other European nations, such as France, Germany and Italy have sent soldiers to areas that see little combat.
Meanwhile, NATO defence ministers meeting in the Netherlands are expected to discuss a strategy against the huge Afghan drug trade. Opium and marijuana crops are funding the Taleban insurgency. NATO’s tactic of helping to destroy poppy fields has been criticised for hitting poor farmers rather than the traffickers and warlords.