DHAKA: Hundreds of British special forces could remain in Afghanistan after 2014 after the UK’s official combat role has ended, British officials have said.
Nato leaders gathered in Chicago to discuss how to manage the transition to Afghan control.
Up to 200 SAS troops could be stationed in the country to fight terrorism, according to senior a government adviser.
‘The majority of forces that remain in Afghanistan (beyond 2014) will be in a training and mentoring role, for example at the Afghan Officer National Training Academy’, they said.
‘But I wouldn’t rule out a small number of forces playing a counter terrorism role if needed.’
The deployment would mirror British involvement in other countries where there is a high risk of terrorist threats, such as Somalia and Yemen.
The official said, ‘This would be in keeping with how we are working to protect ourselves from the counter terrorism threat emanating from other parts of the world, such as the Arabian Peninsula.’
The details emerged as world leaders prepared to gather in Chicago for the Nato summit, which starts on Sunday.
The most hotly debated topic is likely to be the French presence in the country.
François Hollande, the newly elected president, has told both Barack Obama, the US president, and David Cameron, the British prime minister, that he will not renege on a pre-election commitment to withdraw French troops by the end of this year.
Cameron is content with the French position, having been reassured by French promises to retain a sizeable force in the country partly to guard French equipment but also to train Afghan officers.
Another issue likely to trigger infighting is how much each country pays to rebuild the country after 2014.
BDST: 2023 HRS, May 20, 2012
Edited by Robab Rosan, Cultural Affairs Editor
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