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Ambassador warning on Afghan state

The Afghan state will still be messy, poor and under-developed after foreign combat troops pull out in 2014, the outgoing British ambassador to Kabul has said.

Sir William Patey said he was leaving Afghanistan "rather hopeful but not starry-eyed", and stressed: "The job isn't done and the job won't be done in 2014 and 2015."

He also described the killing of two British servicemen by an Afghan soldier at a base in Helmand province's capital Lashkar Gah on Monday as an "isolated incident" unrelated to the recent burning of Korans by American troops or massacre of 17 Afghan civilians by a US soldier.

Meanwhile, the British deputy commander of the Nato mission in Afghanistan said intelligence suggests militants in Helmand - where most UK forces are based - are running low on weapons and money.

Lieutenant General Adrian Bradshaw said: "There are distinct signs as we look towards the start of this year's fighting season that the insurgents are under some pressure. We are getting reports of them being short of weapons and equipment.

"Certain commanders are complaining about a lack of money, and there is a bit of stress showing between certain commanders on the ground. All of this is to our advantage."

Sir William, who completes his posting to Afghanistan on Saturday, told reporters in London via videolink from Kabul: "I don't think we're going to leave a model Afghan state in 2015.

"I think it's still going to be messy, it's still going to be poor, it's still going to be under-developed. But it will be on a road to progress."

The ambassador said he did not believe there was a trend to the recent spate of "green-on-blue" attacks where Afghan soldiers and police have turned their weapons on foreign troops.

He said: "I think there is a tendency in a country where there has been so much violence for so long that disputes, individual issues, can tend to end in violence in a way that wouldn't be true of other countries."

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