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Jeremy Corbyn cautious over sending more UK troops to Afghanistan

Labour leader calls for political solution to resolve violence in the war-torn nation.

Jeremy Corbyn has suggested he could turn down any Nato request for Britain to send more soldiers to Afghanistan to strengthen efforts against the Taliban, if he was prime minister.

The Labour leader said “at the end of the day wars are not solved by the presence of foreign troops” as he called for a political solution to the violence in the war-torn nation, while vowing to “look at” any request.

The United States has written to Nato countries about the 13,000-strong presence in Afghanistan and “future contributions” will be considered at a meeting in Brussels later this month, a Nato official told the Press Association.

The BBC said this could include deploying additional British troops as the US looks to increase its presence by 3,000.

Mr Corbyn said he would study any request from Nato if he is PM after the June 8 General Election, but highlighted the suffering of UK troops in Afghanistan.

In total there have been 456 British forces personnel or Ministry of Defence civilians killed while serving in Afghanistan since the start of operations in October 2001.

British combat troops left Afghanistan in 2014 but around 500 remain on the ground to train local military forces.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn launches the party's General Election campaign (Peter Byrne/PA)

Speaking to reporters after officially launching Labour’s General Election campaign in Manchester, Mr Corbyn said: “I want to see a peace settlement in Afghanistan. I was opposed to the deployment of troops in the first place in Afghanistan. I think we have to look at promoting greater political stability in Afghanistan and we’ll look at that request when it comes.”

Asked if British troops work against stability in Afghanistan, he replied: “I think British troops have suffered a great deal in Afghanistan and I’ve talked to many former soldiers who have been through awful, awful situations there and they want to see a secure political solution in Afghanistan and of course in neighbouring areas of Pakistan.

Britain has approximately 500 combat troops in Afghanistan to help train military forces.

“At the end of the day wars are not solved by the presence of foreign troops, they are solved by a political solution and that’s what I’ll be working for.”

A Nato official told the Press Association: “The US authorities have written to the Nato secretary-general, Nato allies and partners about the future of our presence in Afghanistan.

“Allied leaders will consider future contributions at our meeting in Brussels later this month, and the issue will be examined in further detail by defence ministers in June.

“It is important that Nato continues to provide the right level of support to the Afghan security forces as they stabilise their country.”

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “The UK keeps its contribution in Afghanistan under regular review to ensure it remains suited for the needs of the mission.”

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