Britain's Cameron briefed on Afghanistan at the Pentagon

21st July 2010, Comments 0 comments

British Prime Minister David Cameron was briefed on the military situation in Afghanistan during a visit to the Pentagon on Wednesday, a US official said.

With Secretary of Defense Robert Gates traveling in Asia, Cameron was welcomed by US Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn when he arrived at the Pentagon at 9:30 am (1330 GMT).

Cameron and Lynn then went to the "tank" -- a secured area sealed off from possible electronic surveillance -- where the prime minister was briefed on events in Afghanistan, said Terry Mitchell, a Pentagon spokesman.

Cameron and Lynn had a "fruitful meeting" lasting about half an hour, Mitchell said.

Just ahead of the visit, Cameron stopped at the US military's Arlington National Cemetery, where he laid a wreath at the "Tomb of the Unknowns" in a solemn ceremony.

Cameron met with President Barack Obama at the White House on Tuesday.

The prime minister told BBC radio Wednesday that Britain could begin scaling back its 9,500-strong troop deployment in Afghanistan as soon as next year if local forces can take over security control.

The majority of Britain's troops in Afghanistan -- the second-largest deployment after the United States' -- are battling Taliban insurgents and training local forces in the violence-wracked southern Helmand Province.

A total of 322 British troops have been killed in Afghanistan since the start of operations in 2001.

© 2010 AFP

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