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Desmond Browne, Britain's junior defense minister (file photo) (epa) PRAGUE, September 19, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- British Defense Secretary Des Browne says the Taliban in southern Afghanistan are fighting harder than initially anticipated when British troops began deploying to Helmand Province earlier this year.


Browne told an audience at the Royal United Services Institute in London today that the tenacity of the Taliban in the face of massive losses has been "a surprise" that has absorbed more of Britain's efforts than predicted. Consequently, Browne says, the Taliban has managed to slow progress on reconstruction in the south.


Brown said a security deal reached earlier this month between Pakistan's military and pro-Taliban fighters in Pakistan's tribal regions could "hold hope" for the future. But he said the deal also could backfire, leading to an increase in Taliban activity.


Browne says record opium poppy cultivation in southern Afghanistan this year also threatens security and economic reconstruction in the south.

The Afghan Insurgency

A U.S. military vehicle damaged by insurgents near Kandahar (epa)

HOMEGROWN OR IMPORTED? As attacks against Afghan and international forces continue relentlessly, RFE/RL hosted a briefing to discuss the nature of the Afghan insurgency. The discussion featured Marvin Weinbaum, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and RFE/RL Afghanistan analyst Amin Tarzi.


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RFE/RL's coverage of Afghanistan.



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