British PM dismisses criticism on Afghanistan
Last Updated: Wednesday, July 22, 2009, 22:09
London: Prime Minister Gordon Brown dismissed remarks by one of his ministers on Wednesday that Britain does not have enough helicopters in Afghanistan, as he sought to move past a damaging row over resources.

Brown said the remarks to a newspaper by outgoing junior Foreign Office Minister Lord Mark Malloch-Brown had been misrepresented and repeated his insistence that British troops had everything they need.

"I am satisfied that Operation Panther's Claw has the resources it needs to be successful," he said, referring to a major assault on Taliban insurgents in the southern Afghan province of Helmand which British troops began in June.

"I think the fact that it is making progress at the moment and yielding results already shows that that is the case.... For the operation we are doing at the moment we have the helicopters we need."

Brown has been forced to defend his strategy in Afghanistan following a surge in troops deaths there, in a row that has piled the pressure on a government already struggling with the recession and an expenses scandal.

The intervention of Malloch-Brown is an embarrassing addition to calls from military chiefs and the main opposition Conservatives -- who are leading Brown's Labour party in the polls -- for more troops and equipment.

Bureau Report

First Published: Wednesday, July 22, 2009, 22:09

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