Afghanistan 'needs political solution'

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The struggle in Afghanistan will not be won by military means alone, Gordon Brown admitted last night as he warned that it must be accompanied by a political solution.

As the US, Britain and Nato allies prepare to announce they will send thousands more troops to Afghanistan, the Prime Minister said there was a "need to have not just a military push in Afghanistan, but a political push".

Mr Brown said: "What we want to do at a national level is support clean and corrupt-free government. At a local level we want to support district and provincial governors that are free from intimidation and can actually deliver the services that people want. What we also want to do is encourage those people who are not wedded to the Taliban to renounce violence and join the political process."

His emphasis on a political solution is designed to reassure the British public that the military operation cannot be open-ended. An extra 500 British servicemen will be dispatched to Afghanistan after President Obama announces his long-awaited decision on US troop numbers next week. Other Nato members are expected to provide about another 5,000.

Mr Brown was speaking to journalists ahead of the Commonwealth heads of government conference in Trinidad, which starts today.

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