British Prime Minister Affirms Commitment To Afghanistan

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Madhulika Sikka/NPR

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and NPR's Renee Montagne, at the British Ambassador's residence in Washington, DC, earlier today.

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron talked about Afghanistan and BP, two subjects that will be big issues here, on his first trip to the U.S. as prime minister.

In an interview with NPR this morning, as diplomats from donor countries gather for a major international conference in Kabul, David Cameron, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, reaffirmed his commitment to the ongoing war in Afghanistan.

Cameron said three recent developments have made him more-optimistic about the situation there: the so-called surge of U.S. forces in Southern Afghanistan, commitments to increase aid on the ground, and greater political engagement in many parts of the country.

"That matters too, because -- in the end -- insurgencies are defeated by a combination of force-of-arms, but also political change," he told NPR's Renee Montagne.

Cameron said he wants Afghanistan to be able to "control its own security, to keep it free from terrorist training camps, and that has a basic level of stability."

That's what success is all about. We're not going to create perfection.  We need the Afghans to know, though, that we're there for the long term. Whatever happens in terms of the politics of Afghanistan, and the fighting, they need to know that Britain and America and the NATO countries will go on providing aid and support and help so that the country doesn't slip back into the mess that it once was.

During his visit to the U.S., Cameron will meet with President Obama, members of congress, and business leaders in New York City. He arrived here yesterday, having flown on a commercial airliner because of economic austerity measures imposed by his government.

As we reported yesterday, the specter of BP has dogged him on his trip, and in all likelihood, he will field questions about the company from congressmen later today.

Many Brits are worried about the financial viability of BP, and Americans are upset about the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and new allegations that Scotland released Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, one of the terrorists involved in the attack on Pan Am Flight 103, to help BP secure a drilling deal in Libya, al-Megrahi's home country.

"I agree that the decision to release al-Megrahi was wrong," he said. "I said it was wrong at the time."

It was the Scotish government that took that decision, they took it after proper processes, and what they saw as the right, compassionate reasons, I just happen to think it was profoundly misguided. This was… He was convicted of the biggest mass murder in British history, and in my view, he should've died in jail.  I said that very, very clearly at the time, and that's my position today.

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