KABUL, Afghanistan — British Prime Minister David Cameron urged the Taliban Tuesday to follow the lead of former militants in Northern Ireland and join the political process to end the Afghan war.
As Cameron talked about prospects for peace, violence was reported across eastern Afghanistan.
The U.S.-led international military coalition said four foreign troops were killed Tuesday – three by a roadside bomb and another in an insurgent attack. No other details were disclosed about the deaths, which raised the total NATO death toll so far this year to 280.
An undisclosed number of Afghan border policemen were killed and wounded when about 150 militants attacked checkpoints along the border with Pakistan, the government said in a statement.
The Afghan Ministry of Interior said the border policemen came under attack around 1 a.m. Tuesday in Kunar and Nuristan provinces. The ministry said 20 militants were killed in several hours of fighting, but the number of border police casualties was not disclosed.
President Hamid Karzai said the government of Pakistan must prevent any kind of terrorist attacks launched from its soil into Afghanistan.
British troops are poised to begin withdrawing next year, but Cameron vowed to increase Britain's aid to Afghanistan and help build an elite military academy modeled on England's famous Sandhurst. Karzai and Cameron agreed on plans for a military officer training academy in Afghanistan, to be staffed mainly by British personnel and accept 1,350 recruits a year starting in 2013.
At a news conference with Karzai, Cameron said Britain's experience of drawing Irish Republican Army terrorists into Northern Ireland's political process could guide Afghanistan's own efforts to reconcile Taliban insurgents.
Cameron's message to the Taliban: "Stop killing. Stop bombing. Stop fighting. Put down your weapons. Join the political process and you can be part of the future of this country."
"I have seen it in my own country, in Northern Ireland," he continued, "where people who were involved in trying to kill, to maim and bomb civilians and police officers, army personnel and even politicians have actually become politicians themselves and are involved in the governance of that country."
Standing outdoors with Karzai at the presidential palace, Cameron said he would confirm to Parliament on Wednesday that about 500 of the 9,500 British forces will leave next year, and insisted all foreign troops would stick to a 2014 deadline to end their combat role. An additional 450 personnel, who were deployed on a temporary mission, also will be pulled back by February, Cameron said.
Britain gave 102 million pounds ($164 million) of aid to Afghanistan between April 2010 and April 2011, and is expected to pay out 178 million pounds ($286.5 million) during the next 12 months.
"This is a great example of a country that if we walk away from, and if we ignore, if we forget about, the problems will come visited back on our doorstep," Cameron said.
Karzai said he hoped Britain "could continue to help Afghanistan, to build up our infrastructure, build our civil society."
"While there will be a reduction of troops – some drastic, some not so drastic – the process of transition to Afghan authority must go on unhindered and unimpeded," Karzai said.
The British leader's visit to Afghanistan was marred by the death Monday of a British soldier, who went missing from a checkpoint in the south and was later found with fatal gunshot wounds.
The soldier was identified by the Ministry of Defense Tuesday as 20-year-old Scott McLaren.
The death was a "reminder of the high price that we have paid for the vital work we do in Afghanistan," Cameron said.
Associated Press writers Rahim Faiez contributed to this report.