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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 October 2006, 11:29 GMT 12:29 UK
Iraq conflict
On Sunday 22 October, Huw Edwards interviewed Des Browne MP, Defence Secretary.

Please note "BBC Sunday AM" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

HUW EDWARDS: We've made contact with Des Browne on the line from Afghanistan.

Mr Browne, thank you very much for joining us and I'm sorry it's been a bit difficult to get in touch, but what is your message to the troops there now? DES BROWNE: Well I mean my message to the troops here is quite clear and you know will be with them over the next couple of days and that is that they are doing an outstandingly good job.

I've just come from a meeting with President Kazi and he has specifically asked me to pass on, you know, his thanks and the thanks of the people of Afghanistan who have themselves lost two million people securing their freedom to this extent.

And they should be reassured that the work that they are doing, particularly in training Afghan security forces, is bearing fruit and that we are now able to say that we are standing up significant numbers both of the Afghan Army and of their police including auxiliary police, to augment the work that we're doing right across this country.

HUW EDWARDS: Mr. Browne, we had William Hague on earlier saying that what's clear is that you totally underestimated the strength of the Taliban there in recent months and years, and that you might as well admit it and give us a frank assessment of how serious things are.

DES BROWNE: Oh, I mean I've always been frank about how serious and challenging Afghanistan is. And the international community has known, which is why of course 37 countries are represented across this country, trying to implement the provisions of a United Nations resolution why NATO was called in to do this. If anybody thinks that we underestimated the nature of the job that we're doing here then they're frankly wrong.

I mean, what, what we have seen in Afghanistan when the Taliban ran this country was brutality at a level that beggars belief, you know, and with the loss indeed of marine Gary Wright, you know, who's friends and family are suffering today.

Last week we saw another example of the level of brutality that these people are capable of.

HUW EDWARDS: Mr. Browne I'm very sorry I'm going to have to leave you, we're out of time, but thank you very much. It's good to make contact with you eventually.


NB: this transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy

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