British troops to stay in Afghanistan until job is done

There will be "no artificial deadline" for UK troops pull out in Afghanistan, said Foreign Secretary.

Updated: May 14, 2010, 14:08 PM IST

London: There will be "no artificial deadline" for the withdrawal of British troops in Afghanistan, who would remain there until "their job is done”, Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Thursday.

The Conservative minister made his remarks following the first cabinet meeting of the newly-formed Conservative-Liberal British government.

During the election campaign, the Liberal Democrats had said they would fight for troops to come home during the next five years of the new Parliament.

"There were no sharp differences on this in the election campaign. Both of the parties in the coalition want the strategy to succeed," Hague told the BBC on Thursday.

Asked when troops would return home, Hague said: "When their job is done and that is at a point where Afghans can look after their own affairs without presenting a danger to the world."

A total of 285 British soldiers have died in Afghanistan since the conflict began in 2001.

Afghanistan is expected to be a key topic at Hague`s first meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in Washington this Friday.