Clinton tries to reassure Britain on Afghan performance

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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday tried to reassure Britain over its role in Afghanistan, following WikiLeaks disclosures of disappointment at the performance of British forces.

Speaking at a security conference in Bahrain, Clinton said she wanted to express her "deep respect and admiration for the extraordinary efforts" made by British forces in Afghanistan.

She said she wanted to express "our regret if anything that was said by anyone suggests to the contrary."

Asked if she thought British troops were up to the task in Afghanistan, Clinton said, "I certainly do."

In US diplomatic cables revealed by WikiLeaks, US and Afghan officials slam British troops over their efforts in the restive Helmand province of Afghanistan, accusing them of making "a mess of things."

The Guardian newspaper on Friday published a raft of leaked memos in which senior officials, including Afghan President Hamid Karzai, criticised British troops for their inability to impose security in the southern province.

In a memo sent in April 2007, General Dan McNeill, the then commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, told a US drug-control officer that he "was particularly dismayed by the British effort.

"They had made a mess of things in Helmand, their tactics were wrong," McNeill said.

© 2010 AFP

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