Page last updated at 18:04 GMT, Saturday, 28 November 2009

Afghan President Karzai to be set international targets

Gordon Brown announces Afghan conference in London

Afghanistan's president will be set targets by the international community for training Afghan forces and tackling corruption, Gordon Brown has said.

Mr Brown said Hamid Karzai would be expected to give commitments at a conference in London on 28 January.

The prime minister confirmed the international conference plans at the Commonwealth summit in Trinidad.

Mr Karzai would face targets of providing 50,000 troops and barring corrupt provincial governors, he said.

Mr Brown made the announcement alongside United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who will be at the conference.

The pair have been discussing strategy for Afghanistan at the summit.

'Political push'

They will be joined in London by Mr Karzai, who was recently installed for a second term as president, and representatives of the 43 nations making up Nato's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

Mr Brown also made it clear that international troop levels would rise in the short term.

US President Barack Obama is expected to announce a decision on reinforcements for Afghanistan on Tuesday.

Hamid Karzai

The prime minister said: "What we need is a political push to match the military push we're now agreeing to.

"And that means that President Karzai has got to accept that there will be milestones by which he's going to be judged and he's got to accept that there will be benchmarks which the international community will set."

He said the targets would enable control to be handed over to Afghan authorities and pave the way for British troops to return home.

BBC diplomatic correspondent James Robbins says Mr Brown has never been blunter in dictating terms to Mr Karzai.

'Shaping destiny'

Mr Brown said he would announce next week whether an extra 500 UK troops would be sent to Afghanistan, a move which would take the British total to 9,500.

The prime minister will open the London conference which will be chaired by the British Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

A conference at a later date in the Afghan capital Kabul will monitor how much progress has been made.

Mr Brown outlined a timescale of targets for Afghanistan in 2010:

  • Three months: Additional troops identified by Afghan government to send to Helmand province for training
  • Six months: Clear plan for police training that includes dealing with corruption and working with local communities
  • Nine months: 400 provincial and district governors appointed

Mr Brown said: "We see the London conference as setting a path for Afghan and international efforts for the future, one that will bring together military and political strategies in a co-ordinated way.

"One which is based on the proposition of why we are in Afghanistan in the first place, that Britain and the world needs protection from the terrorism that starts in the Afghan/Pakistan area, which is the epicentre of modern global terrorism and has got to be dealt with."

Mr Ban said the conferences in London and Kabul would "outline the framework for an increased lead role for the Afghans in the shaping of their destiny".

Mr Brown made it clear the Taliban would not be involved in the London meeting.

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