Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Troops' Afghan job 'very difficult'

British troops' mission in Afghanistan remains "phenomenally difficult", Foreign Secretary William Hague has admitted.

Mr Hague, speaking after six British soldiers were killed when a bomb exploded beneath their Warrior armoured personnel carrier, claimed continuing to fight the Taliban is essential for Britain's national security.

But Liberal Democrat peer Lord Ashdown, a former Royal Marine, warned Afghanistan could descend into civil war once coalition troops end their combat role by the end of 2014.

A total of 404 UK service personnel have died in the country since British forces joined the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 following the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Mr Hague said: "Our objective is to safeguard our own national security by ensuring Afghans can look after theirs. Steadily, we are achieving that."

He added: "We have to continue with this phenomenally difficult task of building a viable state in Afghanistan and improving security there."

He told Sky News' Murnaghan programme ministers disagreed with Afghan president Hamid Karzai's attitude to women, but said it would be "unrealistic" to impose British values on the nation and the Taliban lacked enough support to regain power over the country.

Former Lib Dem leader Lord Ashdown said the military coalition's war in Afghanistan was "a copybook in how not to do these things".

He added: "There is a real danger that Afghanistan reverts to a civil war and a lawless place.

"It means we end exactly where we started and it means it is used by those who wish to attack us ... and becomes a threat again."

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph