ISLAMABAD – British Prime Minister David Cameron made a surprise visit to Afghanistan and Pakistan on Saturday, backing talks with the Taliban after his top general said the West missed a chance to strike a peace deal 10 years ago.
Cameron visited troops in the southern province of Helmand and met with President Hamid Karzai as the Afghan government and international powers try to revive peace efforts that recently collapsed in ignominy. “You can argue about whether the settlement we put in place after 2001 could have been better arranged,” Cameron told Sky News in response to remarks by Gen. Nick Carter, deputy commander of the NATO-led coalition and the most senior British officer in Afghanistan.
Carter told The Guardian newspaper Saturday that an opportunity to try to bring peace to Afghanistan was missed when the Taliban were on the defensive in 2002 after their ouster in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Carter acknowledged it is “easy to be wise with the benefit of hindsight” but said that as Afghanistan’s problems are political in nature, they “are only ever solved by people talking to each other.”