x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Troops likely to stay on in Afghanistan beyond 2014

A British defence minister calls for continued military cooperation between UAE and UK forces in Afghanistan, and praises the joint military operation in Libya.

Lord Astor of Hever, a senior UK defence official, at the British consulate in Bur Dubai.
Lord Astor of Hever, a senior UK defence official, at the British consulate in Bur Dubai.

DUBAI // Emirati and British troops may stay in Afghanistan beyond the 2014 withdrawal to support local forces, a senior UK defence official says.

Lord Astor of Hever, a British parlimentary undersecretary of state for defence, spoke yesterday on the second day of a two-day visit aimed at encouraging ties between the UK and UAE.

"We will be there after 2014 to help them in a mentoring role and I imagine your country may leave a number of people," Lord Astor said. "And we will remain, probably both countries, to offer humanitarian aid."

The Nato coalition in Afghanistan is due to transfer responsibility to local security forces in three years and pull out, although officials say some troops may remain.

UAE troops are helping to train the Afghan military, who have taken over in some provinces.

The UK has about 10,000 troops there and the UAE 250. They serve together in Helmand, where Afghan forces have taken the lead.

Lord Astor said he had also met UAE troops in the neighbouring province of Kandahar.

He praised the recent military cooperation in Libya and said he hoped UAE participation would continue elsewhere as needed.

Lord Astor met Gen Hamad Mohammed Thani Al Rumaithy, the chief of staff of the UAE Armed Forces as well as Sheikh Saud bin Saqr, the Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad, the Crown Prince of Fujairah.

He will also visit Kuwait.