UK

Philip Hammond warns over Afghanistan commitment

British soldier in Afghanistan
Image caption The first recruits are already being trained at the officer academy in Kabul

Britain will be forced to end its long-term military commitment to Afghanistan unless its government signs a security agreement with international forces, the defence secretary has warned.

Philip Hammond made his comments ahead of an official ceremony to open an officer training academy in Kabul.

Mr Hammond said British trainers could only stay if they were given immunity from prosecution under Afghan law.

Most Nato troops will leave the country by the end of 2014.

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Hammond said: "Without those agreements we can't do anything because we won't be able to protect our own people and clearly if we can't protect our own people we won't be able to have them here."

Main contribution

Discussions are already under way with the US on a bilateral security agreement that would allow American troops to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

If that is approved other Nato countries, including the UK, will sign a separate agreement.

The first recruits are already being trained at the academy which has been largely created and funded by the UK.

The academy will be Britain's main military contribution to Afghanistan after 2014. The ceremony was also was attended by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Mr Hammond said: "Modelled on the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, this academy will provide world-class training.

"It will teach the importance of leadership, of self-reliance, of personal discipline, of dedication and of service to fellow soldiers.

"This will help ensure the Afghan officers and those training them will be of the highest quality, helping sustain the progress made in building a capable and professional force."

Mr Hammond also attended a remembrance service at the British base at Camp Bastion while in Afghanistan.

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