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. Britain could send more troops to Afghanistan
LONDON (AFP) Oct 30, 2005
British Defence Secretary John Reid said Sunday he was prepared to send further troops to Afghanistan, a day after a British soldier was killed in the country.

The international coalition is seeking to beef up its presence in southern Afghanistan and Britain would be ready to play a role, Reid said.

International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops mainly act as peacekeepers in the destitute country since the 2001 US-led campaign which ousted the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban regime.

Britain has about 1,000 soldiers in Afghanistan and newspaper reports had suggested that a further 3,000 troops could be deployed.

Reid said no decision had yet been taken.

"We will be prepared if others are, and if we can get the resources and the right back up," he told BBC television.

"No reports at the moment can in any way be accurate because I have not made a final decision."

He said that military means were not the only way of assisting Afghanistan, adding that aid and trade were also crucial.

On Saturday, gunmen opened fire on a vehicle carrying British ISAF soldiers in the main northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, killing one and wounding five.

Reid said Saturday his "thoughts and sympathies" were with the friends and relatives of the dead soldier.

The last British soldier to die in Afghanistan was killed in an apparent suicide bomb attack in January last year.

Britain also has around 8,000 troops stationed in Iraq.

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