British troops have to stay in Afghanistan: Def Secy

Last Updated: Saturday, June 5, 2010 - 14:45

Singapore: British troops have to stay in
Afghanistan to prevent it from becoming a failed state and
breeding ground for terrorism, newly appointed Defence
Secretary Liam Fox said on Saturday.

"In the first week that I was appointed defence
secretary, my first visits were to the injured troops who have
come back from Afghanistan, and the question that I asked
myself was, looking at the human cost of conflict, should
we be there?" he said at an annual security forum in
Singapore.

"And my answer was, unequivocally, still yes," Liam added
at the conference known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, also
attended by his US counterpart Robert Gates and senior
Asia-Pacific security officials.

"We could not afford to allow Afghanistan once again to
become a failed state, a security vacuum into which might be
drawn the forces of transnational terrorism which were
unleashed on us in the past," he said.

Liam is a Conservative member of the British coalition
government set up with the Liberal Democrats following the
Labour Party`s defeat in the May 6 elections.

The minister came under fire recently for describing
Afghanistan in a newspaper interview as a "broken 13th-century
country," a remark which Afghan officials and media called
racist and disrespectful.

In a prepared speech to the Singapore meeting, Fox said
he had "a daunting array of issues competing for attention"
but his top priority was Afghanistan, where 9,500 British
troops are part of a 60-nation international force.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, June 5, 2010 - 14:45

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