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The Prime Minister has visited troops on the front line in Afghanistan as a senior British commander claimed talks with the Taliban should have been attempted a decade ago.
On a trip timed to coincide with Armed Forces Day, David Cameron acknowledged that things could have been done differently after military operations removed the Taliban regime.
The UK has helped 're-stabilise' Afghanistan, said the Defence Secretary in response to comments that the west could have struck a deal with the Taliban a decade ago.
Philip Hammond added: "I think in order to have a sensible discussion, you have to have established some kind of status quo on the battlefield. And I think if we go back ten years, the Taliban were very much in the ascendency and I think we have re-stabilised Afghanistan.
"We have built an Afghan security force which is capable and competent and that has put the government of Afghanistan in a strong position where is able to reach out from a position of strength to those in the Taliban who are willing to make peace and renounce violence.
"That's the right way forward".
Assaults on UK and US soldiers in Afghanistan are likely to continue before western troops leave the country next year, the top British commander in Afghanistan has told the Guardian.
General Nick Carter told the newspaper: "First of all, people like to negotiate from a position of strength, and secondly I think the opponents of Afghanistan would like to appear to compel the international community's withdrawal.
"I don't think it's surprising that we are seeing spectacular attacks in Kabul and a continuance of attacks elsewhere".
Afghan forces are strong enough to take over Nato, the deputy commander of the Nato-led coalition has told the Guardian.
General Nick Carter said that the Kabul government may have to accept they may only have shaky control over some remote areas of the country for some years, as the US and UK prepare to pull their troops from the country next year.
He said: "What the opponents of the Afghan government now realise is they are likely to be up against capable Afghan security forces who are going to be here in perpetuity and therefore that old adage that 'We have the clocks but the Taliban have the time', has now been reversed.
"They are now up against security forces who have the time, and they are also Afghan forces ... for those reasons I think that there is every chance people will realise that talking is the answer to this problem".
The top British commander in Afghanistan has told the Guardian that the west could have struck a deal with the Taliban a decade ago, shortly after they had been removed from power.
Speaking to the newspaper, General Nick Carter said:
"Back in 2002, the Taliban were on the run.
"I think that at that stage, if we had been very prescient, we might have spotted that a final political solution to what started in 2001, from our perspective, would have involved getting all Afghans to sit at the table and talk about their future."