PM's Christmas message to troops in Afghanistan

David Cameron shakes hands with a soldier in Afghanistan

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David Cameron has praised the "service and heroism" of British soldiers in Afghanistan and reiterated his pledge to bring them home by the end of 2014.

The prime minister, who visited troops there last week, said British people should remember the "extraordinary sacrifices" made by UK forces overseas.

The UK would not leave Afghanistan perfect, he wrote in the Sun on Sunday.

But he said the country would be capable of stopping itself becoming a "haven for terrorist training camps".

"By the end of next year we will no longer have British servicemen or women in a combat role in Afghanistan," he said.

'Take pride'

"Of course, we will not leave behind a perfect country or a perfect democracy. Afghanistan is an extremely poor country with a very troubled history.

"But we should remember the purpose of the NATO mission. We sent our service men and women to build Afghan security forces that were capable of maintaining a level of security so that Afghanistan could never again become a haven for terrorist training camps. They will achieve that."

Mr Cameron said soldiers who had returned to Afghanistan for several tours knew it had improved "dramatically".

"So as we think about our brave armed forces this Christmas, let's take pride in their achievements in Afghanistan," he said.

He also praised other UK forces overseas including the crew of HMS Illustrious, which went to the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan hit the country last month, the Navy tackling piracy off Somalia and those serving on Britain's nuclear submarines.

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