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UK could start pulling troops from Afghanistan next year, PM says

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Troop levels should be based on conditions on the ground, David Cameron says
  • He expects to have combat troops out of Afghanistan by 2015, he says
  • The United States is also talking about drawing down force levels, starting next summer
  • The UK has the second-largest number of foreign troops in Afghanistan, after the U.S.

Washington (CNN) -- British troop numbers in Afghanistan could start falling as soon as next year, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Wednesday.

"But it should be based on the conditions on the ground," Cameron said in response to a BBC reporter.

"I don't want to raise expectations about that, because that transition should be based on how well the security situation is progressing," he said.

The United Kingdom has the second-largest contingent of international forces in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban, after the United States.

President Obama has said he would like to see U.S. troop levels start to fall starting in July 2011 if the country is secure enough.

Cameron, who is visiting the United States, was asked if the British public could also expect to see British troop levels come down from the current level of about 9,500.

The prime minister said yes, but that the decision would be based on conditions on the ground.

And he reiterated that he wanted British combat troops out in five years.

"We're not going to be there, you know, in five years' time, in 2015, with combat troops or large numbers," he said.