G8 leaders agree timeframe to bring Afghan troops home

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By Brendan Carlin In Toronto
Last updated at 12:52 AM on 27th June 2010

David Cameron’s plan to pull British troops out of Afghanistan in five years was gathering pace last night after he won backing from fellow world leaders.

The G8 summit in Toronto agreed to set a timescale for a withdrawal of Western military forces and Afghan President Hamid Karzai was told that he had to take responsibility by then.

In a firmly-worded communique, Mr Karzai, who was re-elected last year after a deeply-flawed poll, was urged to step up the drive against corruption and make ‘concrete progress’ to strengthen the Afghan legal system.

Backing: British Prime Minister David Cameron, pictured here at the G8 meeting in Canada, plans to pull troops out of Afghanistan in five years

Backing: British Prime Minister David Cameron, pictured here at the G8 meeting in Canada, plans to pull troops out of Afghanistan in five years

The surprise move came just 24 hours after the Prime Minister said he hoped British troops would have left Afghanistan by the time of the next General Election in 2015.

No 10 aides sought to play down Mr Cameron’s personal role in the hard-line agreement on Afghanistan.

But it came after the Premier urged fellow G8 leaders, including French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German leader Angela Merkel, to send a ‘collective signal’ on dealing with Afghanistan to prevent Al Qaeda terrorists from restoring their grip on the country.

G8

Quick chat: David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, share a word during a G8 Working Session

Since the start of the UK’s military engagement in 2001, 308 British servicemen and women have lost their lives. Mr Cameron also backed US President Barack Obama’s decision to appoint General David Petraeus as the new commander of multinational forces in Afghanistan.

He replaced General Stanley McChrystal, who was sacked last week after criticising senior US administration figures.

G8

Wind down: French President Sarkozy, President Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and David Cameron share a laugh after their formal family photo session at the Muskoka Resort for the G8 Summit

The summit conclusions, reached at an isolated lakeside resort nearly 200 miles from Toronto, were revealed as Mr Cameron had to hitch a lift back to the city with President Obama yesterday.

Owing to weather conditions, the Royal Canadian Air Force helicopter due to transport Mr Cameron was unable to fly – so President Obama took the Prime Minister back in Marine One, his official helicopter.

Lift: David Cameron was taken back from the G8 summit in Barack Obama's Marine One helicopter along with the US President

Lift: David Cameron was taken back from the G8 summit in Barack Obama's Marine One helicopter along with the US President

No 10 officials insisted the President’s gesture was a sign of the increasingly warm relationship between the two men.

US government officials said the lift offered to Mr Cameron was the first given to any foreign leader in either Marine One or Air Force One since Mr Obama entered the White House in January 2009.

Some other world leaders were forced to make the trip by road – a journey lasting two-and-a-half hours.

Obama Cameron

Pleased to see you: Prime Minister David Cameron and President Barak Obama hope to make some progress at the world meetings

Later last night, Mr Cameron and President Obama were due to hold their first formal face-to-face meeting since the Prime Minister took office last month.

As well as Afghanistan the two men were due to discuss restoring the world’s economies and the thorny issue of oil giant BP. The huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has stoked anti-British sentiment in the United States.

Obama Cameron

Beer you go: The leaders exchange bottles of ale as they face reporters

In a further boost, Mr Cameron is expected to receive the support of world leaders for his massive programme of public spending cutbacks.

A summit of the 20 richest nations, also in Toronto and due to begin last night, will endorse the coalition Government’s decision to slash public spending by £113 billion over five years.

Mr Cameron will warn Argentina to keep off the Falklands Islands when he meets the Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner at the G20 summit today.

Ms Kirchner is pressing for new talks on the sovereignty of the islands, a call supported last week by a UN committee.

But the Prime Minister will tell her  that the South Atlantic islands are staying British. 

‘He will make it very clear that our position on the Falklands has not changed and will not change,’ Downing Street sources said.

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Ye Gods-so there is something British he likes! Our troops.Very gracious of you BP--- Barack the Prejudiced!

- Alan of, Chigwell., 27/6/2010 10:31

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It puzzles me why Afghan forces in a country of 28 million cant take control much sooner.

If there is genuine support of the people, then an army of say 200,000 well equipped and trained v the Taliban and Alkaida should easily be able, with popular support, suppress them.

If not what chance do foreign forces viewed with suspicion have in achieving that as we have tried to do for the last 9 years?.

We cant help create a democracy if that is not wanted

- Tim, GB, 27/6/2010 10:29

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This clown call me dave will say we have brought democracy to Afghanistan now we can conme home as we have beaten the Taliban, a few weeks later the Taliban will rule their own country. How many more of our young men have to come home in body bags or without legs and arms for the stupidity of the things in the Westminster trough. No invader has ever beaten the Afghanisten people, you Westminster clowns please read history.

- will, gillingham, 27/6/2010 10:19

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Our Military leaders, are still talking about our troops in the same way they did in WW1. Thousand lost for twenty yards of ground, you can still hear the officers, "Over the top Men"

The politicians and the leaders are still the same cold blooded people that they always were.

Let them put their children on the front line, and then see how long the wars lasts.

- peewee, tiverton Devon, 27/6/2010 09:59

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All those people whining about casualties, please remember about two people get killed on Britains roads every day through drink driving. I'm in the military, we all volunteer to do this job, we are all professional soldiers and expect some 'occupational hazards', we all know the risks; unlike the innocent victims of alcohol that will be killed, maimed, injured, psychologically scarred, abused, etc.

- Andrew Foden, Boughton, England, 27/6/2010 09:55

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I have given up commenting because no one in authority cares. As mentioned above the casualty rate is going up and up and you can be certain it will hit the one thousand mark before any real talk of getting out.
Meanwhile we are in a depression saving pennies and spending millions of pounds on an unwinnable war where the only thing that can be guaranteed is that more and more of our young people will die in a fruit.less cause.

- Bernard, Sheffield England, 27/6/2010 09:55

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