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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 November 2007, 06:47 GMT
Taleban 'not a threat', says UK
By David Loyn
BBC News, Kabul

Lord Malloch-Brown
The minister says the Taleban are not a resurgent force
British Foreign Office minister Lord Malloch-Brown has said that the Taleban do not pose a credible threat to the government of Afghanistan.

His comments come after a report last week said the insurgents controlled more than half of the country.

The report said Afghanistan risked becoming a divided state.

Since early last year British and other international forces have been engaged in an intense conflict against the Taleban in southern Afghanistan.

'Much progress'

Ground that the British withdrew from in Helmand province a year ago, like the town of Musa Qala, has still not been retaken.

Apart from Helmand, there has been heavy fighting in another half a dozen provinces, with the Taleban able to move across a wide area, attracting new recruits crossing the border from Pakistan every day.

In a letter to the Independent newspaper, Lord Malloch-Brown said that the Taleban were not a resurgent force and did not pose a credible threat to the democratic government of Afghanistan.

The minister was responding to a Senlis think-tank report last week which said that the Taleban were the de facto governing authority in much of the country.

Lord Malloch-Brown said that much progress has been made, although he admitted that challenges remained.

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