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David Beckham buoys British troops in Afghanistan

By the CNN Wire Staff
David Beckham is shown systems used by front line troops, during a visit to Camp Bastion, Afghanistan on May 22.
David Beckham is shown systems used by front line troops, during a visit to Camp Bastion, Afghanistan on May 22.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Beckham to boost spirits of British troops in Afghanistan Saturday
  • Soccer star will host a question-and-answer session with the troops
  • Trip coincides with official trip to Afghanistan of new British foreign secretary, officials
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Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Football star David Beckham was visiting British troops in Afghanistan on Saturday, the British Ministry of Defence said.

A ministry spokesman called it a "morale-boosting trip for the benefit of our troops."

Beckham accompanied troops flying from the RAF Brize Norton base in England on Friday and arrived in the southern province of Helmand, where around 9,000 British troops are based, said the British Forces Broadcasting Service, which supplies news to the British military.

Beckham planned to host a question-and-answer session with the troops and meet medical staff and patients, BFBS said.

"I have nothing but admiration for these young men and women, and it makes me very proud to be British," he said in a statement released by BFBS. "I've wanted to visit Afghanistan for a long time, and I hope that in some small way it helps remind everyone at home what an amazing job they are doing out here in very difficult conditions. I feel very humble."

Beckham is missing this year's soccer World Cup in South Africa, which begins next month, because he ruptured his Achilles while on loan to Italian club AC Milan. The injury has also ruled him out of the Los Angeles Galaxy's Major League Soccer season.

His visit coincides with that of British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who arrived in the country Saturday and also planned to meet British troops.

It is the foreign secretary's first official trip to the war-torn nation since Prime Minister David Cameron assumed office this month.

Hague, Defense Secretary Liam Fox and International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell were also planning to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, members of his cabinet and other senior officials.

"Our most urgent priority is to get to grips with the situation in Afghanistan," Hague said in a written statement released by the British Embassy in Kabul. "It will consume a lot of our time, energy and effort and it is therefore vital that ministers have a strong understanding of the issues.

"We need to give the strategy time and support to succeed, and we are here in Afghanistan to explore this at the earliest opportunity."

There are currently about 9,500 British troops in Afghanistan, where they have been serving since November 2001.

 
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