Britain awaits Obama before Afghan troop decision

Fri Nov 28, 2008 2:02am EST
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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain wants to see what plans U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has in Afghanistan before deciding whether to send extra troops there, Foreign Secretary David Miliband said in an interview published on Friday.

"We're waiting to see what the Obama strategy is," Miliband told the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

"If there are requests for help -- economic, social or military -- we'll look at them hard. We've never been in blanket refusal. But the British people don't want to feel it's always us who gets the nod: they want to know that others will do it."

Obama has pledged to send more troops to Afghanistan, where the United States has more than 30,000 soldiers to support the Afghan government in its fight against the Islamist Taliban.

Obama, who takes office in January, is expected to put pressure on European members of NATO to do more.

Britain has around 8,500 troops serving with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.

Two British soldiers were killed while on patrol in the volatile Helmand Province on Thursday, taking to 128 the total number killed in Afghanistan since 2001.

Britain has urged other countries to make a bigger contribution in Afghanistan. A BBC poll earlier this month showed more than two-thirds of those questioned wanted British forces to leave Afghanistan within a year.

(Reporting by Jon Boyle; Editing by Paul Tait)