The Great Debate UK

From afar, G8 seeks a handle on Afghanistan

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Luke Baker- Luke Baker is a political and general news correspondent at Reuters. -

The mountains and deserts of southern Afghanistan are far removed from the elegant charms of Trieste in northern Italy, but there will be a link between the two this weekend.

Foreign ministers from the Group of Eight nations meet in the Italian city on the Adriatic on Thursday for three days of talks, with the state of play in Afghanistan, as well as developments in Iran and the Middle East, front and centre of their agenda.

Nearly eight years and tens of billions of dollars on from the U.S.-led invasion that overthrew the Taliban, the United States and its allies appear no closer to bringing long-term stability to the country, with the Taliban resurgent throughout the south and west and the instability expanding across the border into Pakistan.

One of the major areas of unrest is Helmand, a vast desert and mountain province in the far south where around 8,000 British troops have been deployed for 3-1/2 years and 10,000 U.S. Marines are steadily being sent in as reinforcements.

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