Britain Is Likely to Send More Troops to Afghanistan

Gordon Brown's spokesman Simon Lewis said on Friday, Wednesday British Prime Minister will make a statement to parliament on Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Britain is expected to boost its troop levels.

Worsening violence in the U.S.-led eight-year war with the Taliban has triggered calls for a change of strategy, including the possibility of NATO forces sending more troops to try to stabilise larger areas of Afghanistan.

Britain has about 9,000 troops on the ground and could send about another 500, according to British media reports.

The ministry of defense confirmed a soldier had been killed by an explosion in central Helmand province on Thursday morning, taking the British army death toll to 221 in the conflict.

"The Prime Minister is open minded on the question of whether more troops are needed in Afghanistan and whether we should send more troops," Brown's spokesman told reporters, Reuters reports.

Newspapers including The Times of London have reported that the 9,000-strong U.K. contingent in Afghanistan, the second- largest after the U.S., will be boosted by about 500. Brown’s spokesman has refused to confirm or deny those reports.

U.S. President Barack Obama is reviewing strategy in Afghanistan and is under pressure from his military commanders to send thousands more troops to help fight the Taliban insurgency. Brown says any increase in U.K. troop numbers is contingent on there being enough resources and equipment to support them and NATO allies doing more to share the burden, Bloomberg reports.

Bloomberg quoted Brown's spokesman as saying, "Downing Street has not given any number in terms of any possible troop uplift."

Despite growing public dissatisfaction over Britain's involvement in a conflict that has cost more British troop lives than the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the UK government has also said it would consider sending more soldiers.

"It's the right thing to do to make any statement about troop numbers within the context of a House of Commons statement first," the spokesman said, Reuters reports.

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