British troops today set up the headquarters of the international peace-keeping force in Afghanistan as a deal was struck governing how they will operate.
British troops today set up the headquarters of the international peace-keeping force in Afghanistan as a deal was struck governing how they will operate .
A convoy carrying about 70 British soldiers drove into Kabul, the Afghan capital, to reinforce patrols.
The terms of the agreement detailing how the British–led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) will operate under Afghanistan's new government, were finalised yesterday.
But difficulties in translating the document into Dari – Afghanistan's official language – led to delays. The agreement was today initialled, but a formal signing could take a few days.
It is expected that up to 3,000 soldiers will make up the final number of peace-keepers.
The military and technical agreement on the size of the peacekeeping force was reached after several days of tortuous negotiations between Afghanistan's interim government and British General John McColl.
The British troops form part of the security arrangements which have been in place since Afghanistan's interim government was sworn in on 22 December.
Afghanistan's Foreign Minister Dr Abdullah Abdullah said that the first multi–national troops would arrive "very soon" and would be deployed only in Kabul.
At some point they could also operate outside Kabul although a new mandate from the United Nations would be needed, he said.
Initially they will carry out security work alongside Afghans, operating under regulations which will permit them to defend themselves.
Nations offering troops to the UN–sponsored multi–national force are expected to send reconnaissance parties to Afghanistan over the next few days. The bulk of the force could follow days later.
Details of the deal are only expected to be released after all of these nations has seen the documents.