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U.K. Plans International Conference On Afghanistan In January

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced the plans for the conference.
PORT OF SPAIN (Reuters) - An international conference on Afghanistan will be held in London on January 28, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said today.

The conference, announced by Brown on the sidelines of a Commonwealth summit in Trinidad and Tobago, would discuss progressively handing over security in Afghan provinces to Afghan government control so that international forces in the country could be eventually reduced.

Brown made the announcement in Port of Spain with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said the London security conference would be followed by another meeting in the Afghan capital Kabul.

Britain has said it will send an extra 500 troops to Afghanistan, taking the British force to 9,500. It has been trying to persuade other countries in the NATO-led coalition to send an extra 5,000 soldiers to help fight the Taliban and train Afghan forces.

A total of 235 British soldiers have died in the Afghan campaign, making the British mission in the landlocked Asian country a sensitive issue for Prime Minister Brown ahead of an election next year.

On December 1, U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to announce he is sending about 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan as part of a new counterinsurgency strategy that will place more emphasis on accelerating the training of Afghan security forces so that U.S. soldiers can eventually withdraw.