December 7th, 2010
10:36 AM ET

UK prime minister in Afghanistan: NATO goals 'achievable'

NATO's goal of ending combat operations in Afghanistan and leaving security in local hands by the end of 2014 is realistic, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Tuesday on his second visit to the nation in 2010.

"It's challenging, but it is achievable," Cameron said. "What I see is actually some grounds for cautious optimism."

Cameron cited the continued training of the Afghan National Army and the nation's police force, noting 500 police officers are coming out of a British-run police academy every eight weeks.

"There are more markets open, more children going to school, local governors providing legitimate governance with the local population rejecting the brutal shadow (of the) Taliban regime," Cameron said during a joint news conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

In the same conference, Cameron addressed the international WikiLeaks situation. WikiLeaks, which facilitates the anonymous leaking of secret information, has been under intense pressure from the United States and its allies since it began posting the first of more than 250,000 U.S. State Department documents on November 28.

"I don't want the WikiLeaks to come between our strong relationship. Some of what was referred to was the fact that there was not enough troops in Helmand province in the past, and that is certainly true," Cameron said. "It's clear that we did not have enough troops in Helmand to actually deliver the security that was necessary."

But Cameron added, "I think you can now see on the ground with 20,000 U.S. Marines, with some 10,000 U.K. forces, you really can see a density of forces that are able to deliver security to the vast majority of the people."

Karzai, who said WikiLeaks documents have "some truth and some not so truth in them," replied in a less serious tone.

"On a lighter side, you should wait for the WikiLeaks from Britain so our conversation with Britain's leaked on America," the Afghan president said, drawing laughter from the British prime minister.

"We're very nice about that, just to be clear," Cameron said.

"Most of the time," Karzai quipped.

NATO has some 150,000 troops in Afghanistan, pressing the fight against the Taliban and al Qaeda. About 9,500 of the forces are British, according to the country's Ministry of Defence.

During the joint press conference, Karzai expressed his gratitude to Britain.

"Britain has been as steadfast supporter of Afghanistan and of the Afghan people," Karzai said. "Britain has contributed in the sacrifice of its soldiers, of blood and of resources in Afghanistan for which the Afghan people are extremely grateful. You have been operating as a British army and trainers and civilians in a very difficult part of the country. We fully understand and appreciate the hard work that you are doing."

Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander in Afghanistan, has stepped up attacks on militants since taking over the command in June and is seeing progress as a result.

In an October interview with CNN, he said he expects to be able to recommend to U.S. President Barack Obama that the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan could start being reduced beginning in July 2011. But Petraeus declined to say how many troops might be headed home.

Cameron said he shares a similar optimism, adding he believes some British troops could start heading home before Christmas 2011.

"I think that it's possible," he said. "We have to deliver on the ground what's necessary."

Cameron said British forces are ahead of schedule in training the Afghan army.

"We have a very clear timetable for transition in Afghanistan. It's going to take place between now and 2014," the prime minister said. "All of NATO has signed up to that. The Afghan government has signed up to that."

CNN's Umaro Djau and John Dear contributed to this report.

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Filed under: NATO • Troops
soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. Dindy.....

    The problem to this world is not India (not hindu) It is these terrorists from Pakistan coming from gutters.

    December 8, 2010 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  2. fatavoice

    pravin why you can't dare to speak the truth that USA is main force behind all wars in the world. Pakistan has been and is being used by USA IN her wars for strategic designs. So instead of blaming Pakistan dare to blame USA and MIC for all deaths and destructions all over the world.

    December 8, 2010 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
    • dindy Sri lanka

      Well said,fatavoice. Thank you.

      December 14, 2010 at 2:04 am | Report abuse |
  3. Deep

    So, ALL I CAN SAY IS WAKE UP AMERICA, BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE. I beg of you to see through these double game of Pakistan and don't be so gullible to take their word in its face value. Their diplomats and Army officers are sweet talking crooks who cannot be trusted at all.

    December 8, 2010 at 6:41 am | Report abuse |
  4. Deep

    It may be recalled here that the former Pakistani President and Military General Musharraf had openly proclaimed that these terror organizations are trained and protected by the them as a matter of Paksitani State policy so that they act as first line of defence against any foreign attacks on their soil. Hence, it is futile on the part of NATO and American leaders that Pakistan is going to help them in controlling or wiping these terror organization or help them in fighting terrorism in Afghanistan.

    December 8, 2010 at 6:41 am | Report abuse |
  5. Deep

    Pakistan will never fight any battle against terrorism as most of their retired and serving army top brasses are heading one or the other terror groups. These Pakistani officers usually are trained at reputed American military establishments like West Point, where they learn the American and NATO military war tactics and in turn these tactics are imparted to these terror organizations. Hence the American and NATO troops find it difficult to eliminate them, moreover these groups are protected by Pakistani Army and Intelligence Agencies and provided with prior information of NATO attacks on them.

    December 8, 2010 at 6:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Dindy.....

      Deep I also wonder if Pakistan truly support against terrorists they can't survive for a long time like this.

      December 8, 2010 at 6:57 am | Report abuse |
  6. Pradeep

    Pakistan will never fight any battle against terrorism as most of their retired and serving army top brasses are heading one or the other terror groups. These Pakistani officers usually are trained at reputed American military establishments like West Point, where they learn the American and NATO military war tactics and in turn these tactics are imparted to these terror organizations. Hence the American and NATO troops find it difficult to eliminate them, moreover these groups are protected by Pakistani Army and Intelligence Agencies and provided with prior information of NATO attacks on them.

    December 8, 2010 at 6:38 am | Report abuse |
  7. pravin

    Accept pakistan is a problem. Deal with them firmly and no kid glove treatment. Mean what u say by action. When terorrism originating from pakistan is a problem for the entire world and since pakistan has not been able to do any thing about it for nine long years except milking the west and giving them some lower rung leaders when the west gets angry, to make the west happy.. . The world has the right to sweep pakistan clean of the mess ,pakistan has created for the entire world. The terrorist factories in pakistan are churning more terrorist every day ,more than the west can kill or handle. Fighting the war from afghanistan wouldnot help the cause of the west . Enter pakistan to clean it. Hence no question of soverignty for pakistan should be entertained when the soverignty of other countries are at stake. Warn pakistan give it 15 days to come clean other wise the world will act.End the war in 15 days formula will work fantastically ,therby saving millions of dollar and lives of innocent for world in war indirecty and directly . The money can be used for the poor of the world for education and development which is being spent on war..

    December 8, 2010 at 6:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Dindy.....

      Praveen....will Pakistan Army Join too and will they allow foreign armies to fight in their land with them against terrorists. ?

      December 8, 2010 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
  8. Pradeep

    Dude, I totally agree with you.

    December 8, 2010 at 6:02 am | Report abuse |
  9. pravin

    The simple method of ending this war in afghanisthan is to warn pakistan that either allow us to clean northwest frontier province or we will clean your country. Millions of dollars and lives of nato soldiers would be saved. Pakistan will never allow nato to clean alqaida and other terrorist organisation. It wants to use these terrorist against future afghanistan government and against india. But paksitan fails to realise that once you give birth to the devil the devil doesnot remeber its parents and will spread to the entire world which is what is happening today. The only way to kill this terrorist is to attack pakistan the abode of the devil the melting pot of terror therby ending terrorism once and for all and warning other countries that the world will not take it lightly to terrorist wherever they are. Hence they are an ally of nato for namesake only. Final warning to pakistan either they are with terrorist or with nato therby allowing nato special soldiers to go into pakistan and kill all these terrorist will end the war. Pakistan only understands language of power not that of request, if not done this way they will continue to milk the west with false promises and nato will have to withdraw from afghanistan as a loser in war. The irony of war is that taliban leader Mulla omar and Osama bin laden have been given safe haven by pakistan military and all the technoligal advantage and military power of the west has not been hable to catch them or kill them. Reason double game of Pakistan. West please wake up before its too late.

    December 8, 2010 at 5:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Dindy.....


      December 8, 2010 at 6:16 am | Report abuse |
  10. DIY Tooling Heroes

    A thought provoking blog, but whats the real cost

    December 7, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Yak-o-boy_Says

    Islam is living life like an animal. I agree with that.

    December 7, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sanity

      well done, i didnt even realize that!

      December 7, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dindy.....

    Fatavoice... no body is big or small to me for your information. Yet I wish if people can turn back to God or let God handle the problems about the people who does not agree with fundamentalists. Because only God is almighty!!

    December 7, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • fatavoice

      Dindy thank's for saying this as I too think so and by saying the big one I mean this world super power who has the licence to kill and bomb any one he dislike or is against its interests. God always make justice and today same big one is in trouble at the hands of no one and justice is being done when see USA reaping what they have sown during last three decades in this region.

      December 8, 2010 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
  13. Dindy.....

    fatavoice... Fastly falling moral OF OCCUPATION FORCES....are you kidding ? They were in Afghanistan ..for nine years. How do you say fastly falling .....These troops have given a good fight like real men . Sadly the coward bin is hiding and letting more innocents die on behalf 🙁 .

    December 7, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan in Lafayette, IN

      Jesus Is the Holy Spirit born of the virgin Mary and claimed the He and the Father are one! Not different from the other! The trinity! And without them you will not inherit the kingdom of GOD! ALL WILL BOW DOWN TO JESUS CHRIST!

      December 7, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan in Lafayette, IN

      That He and the Father are one!

      December 7, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan in Lafayette, IN

      In His second coming YOU shall know!!!

      December 7, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. fatavoice


    December 7, 2010 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan in Lafayette, IN

      Let's just hope that this David Cameron has it wrong,fatavoice. I believe in an Afghanistan for the Afghans and nobody else!

      December 7, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
      • Bledsoe


        December 7, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
      • Bledsoe

        Sorry Dan,I didn't post the above. This creep is still trying to make me look stupid. Besides,I fully agree with you.

        December 7, 2010 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
      • Bledsoe


        December 9, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dindy.....

      fatavoice......people have their own style of doing things when they visit other countries. why you worry as he did not go the way you want? How about people who are hiding in their own lands where they are born? what a shame?

      December 8, 2010 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  15. Gary Johndro


    December 7, 2010 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Dindy.....

      Gary ..what is this Yabba daba ddooo.. it sounds like you are swimming all the time

      December 7, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
      • Sanity

        Gary thinks that he is Fred Flintstone

        December 7, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
      • Bledsoe


        December 11, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |