LONDON, Aug 8: UK ministers believe that if Afghanistan falls into the hands of the Taliban, Pakistan may also fall, with dire consequences for British security. According to a report in the Guardian, Britain has been pressing for greater cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan, but recognises that the border means little to local tribes.

Britain still believes its counter-insurgency techniques are working, and the fact that the Pakistan and Afghan government will hold a joint parliament (Jirga) this week shows there is a mood to cooperate.The British Foreign Office has decided that Afghanistan, and not Iraq, is the frontline in its battle to defeat terrorism, even if it may take decades to improve the country -- as well as far greater international coordination than at present.

The UK military also wants to concentrate its forces in Helmand province, an area described by Tony Blair as the crucible in which the battle for the 21st century will be fought.

The decision by Foreign Secretary David Miliband to go to Kabul was intended as a symbol that the UK regards Afghanistan and Pakistan as vital to fighting terrorism.

The Foreign Office does not seem to favour a radical change in policy in battling against opium production in Helmand, saying greater security will gradually lead farmers to sow alternative and currently less profitable crops.

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