KABUL (Reuters) – British Prime Minister David Cameron made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan on Friday to meet with the new unity government, the first major Western leader to visit since an election stalemate was resolved, easing threats of armed conflict.
Cameron’s motorcade arrived at the presidential palace in Kabul early on Friday and he was seen entering the compound for meetings.
His visit comes four days after new President Ashraf Ghani was sworn into office after months of political turmoil following disputed elections.
The prolonged standoff over the June runoff vote between Ghani and rival Abdullah Abdullah ended with a political deal that made Ghani president and saw Abdullah appointed to a chief executive’s position with broad powers.
Behind the United States, Britain has been the second-largest contributor to the international military coalition that has been in Afghanistan since the 2001 US-led intervention to topple the Taleban’s radicals regime in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
More than 450 British troops have been killed in Afghanistan during the subsequent war against the Taleban insurgency and its militant allies.
Most British troops will withdraw at the end of this year, as the coalition’s combat mission ends and Afghanistan’s newly trained security forces take over the fight against the Taleban.