Hopes raised for extra Afghanistan troops

The deployment of 500 extra British troops to Afghanistan came a step closer today when Gordon Brown declared himself "optimistic" of securing 5,000 reinforcements from other allies.

Burden sharing by the rest of the coalition is the last of the conditions placed on the UK's boost by the Prime Minister which remains to be fulfilled.



But in a letter to Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Mr Brown said he was confident UK efforts to persuade partners other than the US to contribute had been successful.



The PM despatched his senior foreign policy adviser Simon McDonald and Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth to 10 countries to encourage them to increase their troop numbers.



"The Prime Minister is now optimistic on progress following that series of meetings and that a majority of the countries we have been talking to will increase their troop numbers," his spokesman said.



The letter gave no details of which countries have been signed up or how many they are each prepared to contribute.



US President Barack Obama is expected to make his own announcement on an American troop surge next week - after months of deliberation with his key military advisers.



The PM's spokesman said the exact timescale for deploying the extra British troops was down to military chiefs but they were "ready in principle to go".





Mr Brown told MPs at question time in the Commons that he expected an announcement from the White House next week.

"I believe that next week we will see the American government and the rest of Nato coming together in a strategy that will mean we will have the forces that are necessary so that we can create the space for a political solution in Afghanistan that means that our streets will be safer."



The Prime Minister hopes to host a summit of allies in London in January to discuss the strategy and a timetable for eventual withdrawal.



In his letter to Mr Rasmussen, he said there needed to be a "much fairer burden sharing arrangement in Afghanistan, across Nato and the coalition".



He told the Nato chief: "In the last week, I have asked my ministers and senior officials to pursue this effort with 10 key coalition partners, focusing on increased troop commitments in the New Year.



"Following these meetings and contacts, I am now optimistic that a majority of these countries will indeed make available increased numbers of troops, and more police trainers and civilian support.



"As we discussed, it is of course essential that the purpose of the presence of international forces in Afghanistan is clear. In addition to offering security, they must train and mentor the Afghan armed forces and police so that, over time, they can take responsibility for the security of their country."



The PM's spokesman said the 5,000 - which excludes Britain's promised 500 - would be made up almost entirely of troops.



In the Commons, Mr Brown also hailed progress being made by Afghan president Hamid Karzai in tackling corruption since his contentious re-election.



"He has now announced an anti-corruption taskforce and I gather 12 people were arrested yesterday from within the core administration," he told MPs.



It was still important, however, to ensure that Mr Karzai's pledges were all "met in the delivery", he added.



Mr Obama said yesterday, after a final meeting of his war council, that his decision would be made public, but specified only that it would be after Thanksgiving on Thursday.



It is more than three months since the US administration began deliberating a report from the US commander on the ground, General Stanley McChrystal, which calls for an additional 40,000 troops.



Speculation has mounted in the US that the president will unveil a surge of around 34,000 additional soldiers.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With extensive experience and a...

Barnardo's: Corporate Audit and Inspection – Retail Intern (Leeds)

Unpaid - £4 lunch allowance plus travel to and from work: Barnardo's: Purpose ...

Recruitment Genius: Content Writer - Global Financial Services

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future