Page last updated at 12:08 GMT, Monday, 27 April 2009 13:08 UK

Brown visits Afghanistan troops

Gordon Brown: We must maintain democracy in Afghanistan

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been in Afghanistan's Helmand province visiting British troops.

The PM talked to soldiers at Camp Bastion during the first stage of a trip in which he also visits Pakistan.

After talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul, he announced a new strategy for dealing with terrorism across border areas with Pakistan.

Mr Brown warned of a "chain of terror" starting in the mountainous region and ending in capital cities worldwide.

He said the UK wants provinces to be handed over to government control one by one - similar to the process in Iraq.

'Crucible of terrorism'

Mr Brown said he also wanted to see the Afghan army expanded from 75,000 to 135,000-strong by the end of 2011, as well as seeing thousands more police.

In a joint press conference with President Karzai, Mr Brown said Britain could not "sit by" and do nothing.

Security in these mountainous border areas, which may seem distant and remote from home, will mean more security in Britain
Gordon Brown

"These border areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan are the breeding ground, the crucible of terrorism," he said.

"A chain of terror links these areas to the streets of many of the capital cities of the world.

"Our strategy for working with both the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan in tackling this terrorist threat will be complementary.

"We will tackle it because security in these mountainous border areas, which may seem distant and remote from home, will mean more security in Britain."

Mr Brown said he and President Karzai would "jointly work" on "eradicating terrorism" in the border areas.

Announcing money to support elections in Afghanistan, Mr Brown said it was "absolutely important" that while progress had been made on Afghan elections and infrastructure it was important to "defeat international terrorism and hold it back from here in Lashkar Gar, here in Helmand province, but also on the other side of the border in Pakistan".

On his visit to Camp Bastion Mr Brown was given a briefing by Brigadier Tim Radford, commander of Task Force Helmand and took part in a meeting of local community leaders including Helmand's governor Gulab Mangal.

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has warned Pakistan that relations with the US will be threatened unless Islamabad combats the rise of the Taleban.

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