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Britain to step up training of Afghan security forces

In an effort to withdraw British troops from war-torn Afghanistan before the general election in UK next year, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has unveiled plans to step up training programme for the Afghan army to reduce its reliance on international troops.

world Updated: Aug 30, 2009 16:16 IST

In an effort to withdraw British troops from war-torn Afghanistan before the general election in UK next year, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has unveiled plans to step up training programme for the Afghan army to reduce its reliance on international troops.

Brown, who paid a surprise visit to the front line in Helmand province in Afghanistan on Saturday said, "stepping up the training programme for the Afghan army means Afghans themselves take responsibility for their own affairs."

Brown told the British soldiers: "I think we could get another 50,000 Afghan army personnel trained over the next year."

According to a report in The Sunday Times, Brown also hinted that there could be a temporary increase in UK troops to support and mentor local forces, with government sources suggesting that Taliban fighters could even be granted an "amnesty" in an effort to bring the conflict to a close.

The announcement will be interpreted by opposition politicians as an attempt to lay the groundwork for a high profile commitment next year to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, report said.

During Saturday's trip, Brown did not specifically refer to an exit strategy or timetable for withdrawal, but moves to train more local forces would pave the way for British troops to be sent home, the report said.