The UK could have presence in Afghanistan for the next thirty years according to the new British ambassador. Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, who will head the embassy in Kabul, said that the effort to stabilise and rebuild the war-torn country was a "marathon rather than a sprint".
He also accepted that Britain should have stepped up its diplomatic and development commitment in Afghanistan earlier. "The task of standing up a government of Afghanistan that is sustainable is going to take a very long time," Sir Sherard told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. "It's a marathon rather than a sprint. We should be thinking in terms of decades."
The British embassy in Kabul has been expanded significantly over recent months, including the appointment of Sir Sherard - seen as a high-flier at the Foreign Office. There is speculation that it could become even bigger than the diplomatic outpost Washington.
"Maybe we should have raised our game earlier, but now we have," Sir Sherard said.
He insisted that although the Nato forces had been responsible for some (?) civilian casualties, most Afghans "want us here". ( That's why they are fighting us!)