Afghan president to be first foreign leader to meet Cameron

15th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

Afghan President Hamid Karzai was set Saturday to become the first foreign leader to meet Britain's new prime minister, flying to London after ending a four-day state visit to Washington, his office said.

"The president of the Islamic government of Afghanistan arrived in London Saturday morning at the end of his official visit to the United States and is due to meet David Cameron and congratulate him on his election as the prime minister of Britain," the statement from Karzai's office said.

The visit comes just days after Cameron formed a new government and put Afghanistan at the top of Britain's foreign policy agenda.

Karzai and Cameron would "hold talks... on expanding and strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries," the statement said.

A spokesman for the British embassy in Kabul said the two leaders would meet at 1130 GMT at Chequers, the prime minister's official country residence.

Karzai "will be the first foreign leader to meet Cameron since the new government took office," the spokesman confirmed.

Cameron renewed Britain's support for the US strategy in Afghanistan, in a telephone conversation with US President Barack Obama almost immediately after he entered Downing Street for the first time on Tuesday.

At a joint press conference with Karzai at the White House, Obama said he and Cameron had confirmed "the extraordinary special relationship between the United States and Great Britain".

Cameron had also "reaffirmed, without me bringing it up, his commitment to our strategy in Afghanistan," Obama said.

"I am confident that the new government is going to recognize that it is in the interest of all the coalition partners to help President Karzai succeed and to build a more prosperous and secure and stable Afghanistan."

Around 9,000 British troops are fighting a Taliban insurgency alongside US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

© 2010 AFP

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