Brown: Chinese may join Afghan mission
Sat, 15 Nov 2008 06:49:18 GMT
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has announced the possibility of Chinese forces joining the multinational coalition in Afghanistan.
Brown told New York's Council on Foreign Relations on Friday of China's possible plans for deploying troops to the war-torn country, amid the worst fighting with insurgents since the US-led coalition invaded the country in 2001.
The premier said he expected more nations not currently involved in fighting to join the Afghan mission, comprised of 41 nations.
All nations should “see this as the front line” in the battle against terrorism, Brown added.
The NATO has called for additional forces, a demand supported by US President-elect Barack Obama, who said he would switch the focus from Iraq to Afghanistan through a phased withdrawal.
In talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai that same day, the British leader said Britain was considering sending another 2000 troops to join its 8,000-strong presence in Afghanistan, based mainly in the troubled southern province of Helmand.
Earlier that week he said he would support Obama's call for more European troops, if other countries would also 'share the burden.'
His comment however came after the head of British armed forces on Monday said that he believed the rest of the burden should be left to other nations as the island is already too involved, with the second-largest force there after the United States.
The Chief of the Defense Staff, Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup strongly objected to plans to deploy the remaining 4,100 British troops serving in Iraq to Afghanistan.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband had also signaled support for Stirrup's position in a separate BBC television interview.
"Yes, there should be burden sharing, but we're bearing a significant part of the burden already," Milband said. "We don't want to bear and unfair share of the burden."
"I am a little nervous when people use the word 'surge' as if this were some sort of panacea," he said, while confirming that more military force was required in Afghanistan, but not from Britain.