Sun, Jul 26, 2009 - Page 5 News List

Obama, Brown urge burden-sharing in Afghanistan


US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown agreed on Friday it was necessary to share the military burden better with NATO allies in Afghanistan, Brown’s office said.

The head of the British armed forces, Jock Stirrup, said earlier that Britain was doing “much more than its fair share” of the fighting in Afghanistan compared with other NATO allies.

Obama and Brown discussed Afghanistan in a phone call after Britain said it was sending 125 more troops to replace soldiers killed or wounded in an offensive against Taliban insurgents.

A statement from Brown’s office said: “They agreed on the importance of better military and civilian burden-sharing with NATO allies.”

Britain has temporarily boosted its contingent in Afghanistan to just more than 9,000 to help provide security for next month’s presidential election. It has the second largest foreign force after the US.

US and British troops have launched major offensives against the Taliban in the southern province of Helmand. Nineteen British soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan this month, one of the highest monthly tolls since the 2001 US-led invasion.

Obama and Brown agreed that despite the human cost, military operations in Helmand were making progress and were helping to provide much-needed security for the elections.

British Defense Secretary Bob Ainsworth said he had decided to send 125 more soldiers to Afghanistan after commanders told him reinforcements were necessary.

A Ministry of Defense spokesman said the reinforcements were intended to maintain the British force rather than to increase it.

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