Karzai visits UK for talks with new PM

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hamid Karzai speaking at the Munich Security Conference in 2009

Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday visited the UK for talks with newly-elected Prime Minister David Cameron. The meeting took place at Chequers, the prime minister's official country residence, and is Cameron's first since last week's general election. Karzai was en route back to Afghanistan from a visit to the United States where he held talks with President Barack Obama.

Downing Street called the meeting "an opportunity for early discussions" between the Afghan president and the new prime minister, pointing out that Karzai himself had requested the meeting to follow up on conversations the two leaders had had while Cameron was leader of the opposition.

David Cameron giving a speech to the World Economic Forum earlier in 2010

According to a spokesman, the discussions had centred around Karzai's visit to the US, which he called "very successful", and "[b]oth the president and prime minister agreed that the relationship between Afghanistan and Britain should be further strengthened [...] The president and the prime minister expressed their admiration for the courage and skill of the British military in Afghanistan, and the sacrifices that British forces have made".

After the meeting with Karzai, Cameron held further discussions with his Defence Secretary Liam Fox along with senior civil servants and service chiefs. The UK's contingent of the NATO force in Afghanistan currently numbers around 9,500— the second largest contingent after the United States.