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Afghans, British sign peacekeeping deal

KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- More British troops moved into the Afghan capital Monday as British and Afghan authorities signed an agreement outlining an international peacekeeping force's role.

British forces will comprise a large part of the force and play a leading role in the International Security Assistance Force, which was part of the Bonn, Germany, agreement that established an Afghan interim government.

The 50 British troops that arrived Monday in Kabul joined about 160 colleagues, many of whom already are conducting joint security patrols with Afghan police.

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Afghanistan's interim interior minister, Younis Qanooni, and British Maj. Gen. John McColl initialed the agreement Monday. It provides the framework for 4,500 to 5,000 international security personnel to be deployed in Kabul, British sources said.

As a result of the agreement, one British military source said, "We have very robust rules of engagement."

Britain will provide the bulk of the force, about 1,500 soldiers. Another 16 countries will contribute troops. Details of the force's composition are expected to be revealed after a contingent representing the participating countries arrives Thursday in Afghanistan, British military sources said.

The international force will do some work to repair Afghanistan's nearly nonexistent infrastructure, such as restoring the Kabul airport. Its main objective, however, will be to provide security in Kabul. The personnel will work side by side with Afghan police.

The sources said the international security personnel should have the Kabul airport open for limited military use in an week and the main runway open for military use in two weeks.

More security forces could be deployed later in other Afghan cities as outlined by the Bonn agreement, but the current pact only provides for troops in Kabul.




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