Afghan leader praises UK troops


Afghanistan's president has thanked thousands of British soldiers for the sacrifices they make while fighting terrorism and rebuilding the country.

In a Christmas letter published in The Times newspaper, President Hamid Karzai wrote of his "profound gratitude" for their work to bring down the Taleban.

He said: "They are fighting and sometimes dying, for the sake of my long-suffering country.

"No words can express how grateful we Afghans are for that."

But he also pointed out that the religious extremists being confronted by British soldiers also posed a threat to the UK.

"We all need to remember always that the main reason why your brave troops are fighting here, alongside ours, is because that violence also threatens you in the West," he wrote.

He went on to say that since the fall of the Taleban regime, girls had been able to return to education and women to work, and that eight out of 10 Afghans now had access to basic healthcare.

Carrying the burden

The president said Afghanistan's "vibrant democracy" would be put in jeopardy without the support of the 8,100 British troops fighting uncompromising religious extremism - which, he said, "profanes" Islam.

But he said the Afghan army was carrying an increasing amount of the burden.

His message came after four British Royal Marines were killed in two separate explosions last week, taking the total of British troops killed in Afghanistan since 2001 to 132.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown visited UK troops there at the weekend.

He has ordered a review of Britain's entire Afghan policy, but the government will not be drawn on whether it plans to send up to 2,000 more soldiers to the country.

US President-elect Barack Obama has requested more troops for a new effort against the Taleban.

However, at a news conference with President Karzai, Mr Brown spoke of the need to share the burden.
Praise from President Karsai!!

Ugghh I suddenly feel so un-clean and very, very wary. What has he been promised?

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