27 Sep 2013 By Ben Farmer, Defence Correspondent
Britain will host next year’s Nato summit as the military alliance draws up plans for Afghanistan after combat troops pull out, David Cameron has announced.
The summit will be the first time the biennial gathering of alliance leaders has been held in the UK since 1990.
Downing Street said that the dates and venues would be announced later, but Mr Cameron confirmed the agenda would be dominated by the lengthy Afghan campaign.
He said: "It will be an opportunity for leaders to recognise the contribution and the sacrifice made by our service men and women as the [international] mission in Afghanistan draws to a close, and as Nato draws down its forces and looks to help Afghanistan in different ways.”
The Nato-led international coalition is quickly withdrawing the more than 80,000 troops it still has in the country. Nato has said all combat troops will leave by the end of 2014 and fully handover security duties to Afghan forces.
American and British commanders believe Afghan forces will not be ready in time to stand on their own against the Taliban though, and want to keep a force of military trainers and special forces troops in the country.
Last week The Telegraph disclosed that the Army was pushing a plan to keep up to 200 advisers in Camp Bastion in Helmand province to help the Afghan army.
Gen Sir David Richards, former head of the Armed Forces, said having the summit was “excellent news” for the UK.
He said: “It confirms the leading role the country continues to play in Nato and on the world stage. In terms of combat effectiveness UK armed forces are the second most powerful in Nato. Given other nations’ defence cuts this will still be the case well into the 2020s.
“I am delighted that the UK will play a leading role in devising alliance strategy in the post Afghanistan era. In what is a very troubled world, working closely with allies and friends will be as important as at any time in our history".