Obama, UK's Brown urge Afghan burden-sharing

Fri Jul 24, 2009 6:13pm EDT
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By Adrian Croft

LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown agreed on Friday it was necessary to share the military burden better with NATO allies in Afghanistan, Brown's office said.

The head of the British armed forces, Jock Stirrup, said earlier that Britain was doing "much more than its fair share" of the fighting in Afghanistan compared with other NATO allies.

Obama and Brown discussed Afghanistan in a phone call after Britain said it was sending 125 more troops to replace soldiers killed or wounded in an offensive against Taliban insurgents.

"They agreed on the importance of better military and civilian burden-sharing with NATO allies," a statement from Brown's office said.

Britain has temporarily boosted its contingent in Afghanistan to just over 9,000 to help provide security for next month's presidential election. It has the second largest foreign force after the United States.

U.S. and British troops have launched major offensives against the Taliban in the southern province of Helmand. Nineteen British soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan this month, one of the highest monthly tolls since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.


The toll has triggered questions in Britain over whether there are enough troops to complete the task, whether they are properly equipped and if they should be in Afghanistan at all.   Continued...