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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 October 2005, 13:28 GMT
UK 'may add to Afghanistan force'
Defence Secretary John Reid
Mr Reid said no decision had been made yet
More UK troops may be sent to Afghanistan, the Defence Secretary John Reid said on Sunday.

Mr Reid told the BBC's Sunday AM that Britain would be willing to play its part if the coalition wanted to boost troops in the south of the country.

Reports have suggested Britain could send as many as 3,000 soldiers, but Mr Reid did not give details.

On Saturday it was announced a British soldier had been killed in a gun attack in northern Afghanistan.

Mr Reid told the programme: "We will be prepared if others are [to send more troops], and if we can get the resources and the right back up," he said.

'Iraq effect'

"No reports at the moment can in any way be accurate because I have not made a final decision."

He also said that trade and aid were needed to bring peace to the country, but that military efforts were occasionally required.

On Saturday the MOD confirmed a soldier from the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry, was killed and five others injured as they travelled between bases in the city of Mazar-e-Sharif.

On Iraq, Mr Reid said the high voter turn-out in the recent Iraqi elections showed "every single effort" by British troops had been worthwhile.

But he also said the controversy over Iraq and the deaths of four young recruits at the army's Deepcut barracks in Surrey, may have affected the recruitment of British soldiers.

"There is no doubt in my mind that the whole question of Deepcut and the accusations of bullying, which we are trying to deal with, and the controversy around Iraq, the mums and dads then get worried about it."

Employment factor

But he said he believed the main reason recruitment was so low was high employment.

The Deepcut barracks has been under investigation since the deaths of four recruits - privates Sean Benton, James Collinson, Geoff Gray and Cheryl James - between 1995 to 2002.

An army instructor, Leslie Skinner, was jailed in October 2004 for indecent assaults on male soldiers.

Families of the four recruits have repeatedly rejected suggestions the deaths were suicides.




SEE ALSO:
UK soldier killed in Afghanistan
29 Oct 05 |  South Asia
Shock as Deepcut probe continues
29 Sep 05 |  England


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