Prime Minister to hold historic meeting with Afghan and Pakistani leaders

British troops in Malgir, Helmand province Photo: REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

David Cameron will break new ground this morning when he holds talks in the Afghan capital Kabul with the leaders of both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The two countries, who share a border along which the Taliban have thrived, have been suspicious of one another throughout the decade-long military conflict in Afghanistan.

A member of Afghan Border Police mans his post at Brabat border checkpoint at the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in Kunar province Credit: REUTERS/Erik De Castro

The three men will meet at the Afghan President's palace in Kabul, where David Cameron has just spent the night after visiting troops in Helmand Province yesterday.

Downing Street sources say it is the first time the leaders of the three countries have met in person at the same time.

Pakistan's new Prime Minister, Raja Pervez Ashraf, has been in office for less than four weeks.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf Credit: REUTERS/Stringer

Earlier this month Pakistan agreed to re-open key supply routes from its side of the border into Afghanistan after pressure from the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

A NATO airstrike last November killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and prompted Islamabad to close the routes which are vital for the US-led conflict in Afghanistan.

For several years the British and American governments have considered the lawless border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan as critical to the success of the military campaign.

David Cameron with Lieutenant General Adrian J Bradshaw and British Ambassador to Afghanistan Sir Richard Stagg Credit: Sergeant Andy Reddy RLC/PA Wire

David Cameron has been meeting British commanders as he plans the next stage of the UK's pullout from Afghanistan.

The combat mission here for British troops will end in 2014. So far, the Ministry of Defence has announced that 500 fewer troops will be here by the end of 2012.

Commanders are keen to have as many troops here for as long as possible and the Prime Minister yesterday spoke of a "sensible, orderly and practical" drawdown of troops.

David Cameron with British Ambassador to Afghanistan Sir Richard Stagg at Camp Bastion Credit: Sergeant Andy Reddy RLC/PA Wire

But he did confirm that there will be another reduction in the number of troops next year when the number should fall below 9,000 (excluding special forces) for the first time in many years.

The number of British troops killed here since the conflict began in 2001 is now 422.