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Wed 21 Dec 2011 12:18 PM

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UK's Cameron hints at reducing Afghan troop numbers

UK prime minister made an unannounced pre-Christmas visit to troops on combat duty in Kandahar

UK's Cameron hints at reducing Afghan troop numbers
British prime minister David Cameron , walks through Kandahar airfield (Getty Images)
UK's Cameron hints at reducing Afghan troop numbers
David Cameron was in Afghanistan on an unannounced visit ahead of Christmas to meet with troops currently in combat operations in the country (Getty Images)
UK's Cameron hints at reducing Afghan troop numbers
Britain favours cutting back its troop numbers in Afghanistan progressively until 2014, when most foreign combat forces are due to pull out, Prime Minister David Cameron indicated on Tuesday (Getty Images)
UK's Cameron hints at reducing Afghan troop numbers
Cameron had to abandon plans to land at Camp Bastion, the main British base in Afghanistan's violence-torn Helmand province, because of a severe dust storm (Getty Images)
UK's Cameron hints at reducing Afghan troop numbers
His C-17 transport plane was diverted to the NATO base at Kandahar (Getty Images)
UK's Cameron hints at reducing Afghan troop numbers
Western countries plan to remove most combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, but Britain, like the United States, has not yet set out troop reduction plans beyond 2012 (Getty Images)
UK's Cameron hints at reducing Afghan troop numbers
The prime minister has committed Britain to pulling out 500 soldiers next year, cutting its contingent to 9,000, before a complete withdrawal in three years' time(Getty Images)
UK's Cameron hints at reducing Afghan troop numbers
Officials say the government is looking at various options to reduce troop numbers (Getty Images)
UK's Cameron hints at reducing Afghan troop numbers
One recent report in the Guardian newspaper set out three options: to cut 4,000 troops in 2013, to cut 2,500, or to freeze troop numbers until the end of 2013 (Getty Images)
UK's Cameron hints at reducing Afghan troop numbers
Cameron spoke to British pilots and ground crew operating Tornado fighter-bombers, part of the 400-strong British contingent in Kandahar, and peered into the cockpit of one Tornado (Getty Images)
UK's Cameron hints at reducing Afghan troop numbers
More than 390 British soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001, the largest death toll of any foreign force apart from the United States (Getty Images)
UK's Cameron hints at reducing Afghan troop numbers
Discussions between allies on troop reductions would take place at a NATO summit in Chicago next year, Cameron said (Getty Images)