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Afghan, British Leaders Pledge To Strengthen Ties

British Prime Minister David Cameron (right) greets Afganistan's President Hamid Karzai oh his arrival at his country residence of Chequers, in Wendover.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Britain's new Prime Minister David Cameron today agreed to strengthen ties between London and Kabul.

The two leaders met after Karzai arrived in London following a four-day state visit to the United States.

Afghanistan was high on the agenda when new U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague met his U.S. counterpart, Hillary Clinton, in Washington on May 14.

Around 9,000 British troops are fighting a Taliban insurgency alongside U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

As the second-largest troop contributor to NATO-led forces in Afghanistan, scores of British soldiers have been killed since the war started in late 2001.

Last year, a record 108 British troops were killed in Afghanistan.

Kremlin Conversation

Earlier, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev spoke by telephone with Cameron and agreed to work on improving ties between Moscow and London.

The Kremlin issued a statement today saying Medvedev congratulated Cameron on his "appointment to the post of prime minister and wished him success in this high position."

Russia's relations with Britain have been chilly since the mysterious 2006 poisoning death in London of Aleksandr Litvinenko, an outspoken Kremlin critic and former officer of Russia's Federal Security Service.

Moscow, in turn, has criticized Britain's refusal to hand over Russian citizens convicted by its courts who have taken refuge in London.

compiled from agency reports