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Britain cuts terror fight in Pakistan as pound falls: minister


Britain has cut back its counter-terrorism programme in Pakistan due to the fall in the pound's value, a minister has said, drawing criticism a major "terrorist threat" was being neglected.

Programmes in counter-terrorism and radicalisation in Pakistan had been cut as the Foreign Office was hit by losses of 110 million pounds (127 million euros, 180 million dollars), said minister Baroness Kinnock on Wednesday.

"As a result of exchange rate movements, the (Foreign Office) faces a shortfall in 2009-10 of an estimated 110 million pounds," said the Foreign Office minister.

"It is a fact that counter-terrorism and radicalisation projects in Pakistan and elsewhere have been the subject of these cuts that the Foreign Office has been obliged to make," she added.

The disclosure came just hours after Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that the "crucible of terrorism" on the Afghan-Pakistan border remained the "number one security threat to the West."

The main opposition Conservatives hit out at the decision to cut back on the programmes.

"Pakistan has been identified as one of the major sources of the terrorist threat to this country," said foreign affairs spokesman William Hague.

"Cutting (Foreign Office) expenditure on counter-terrorism programmes in Pakistan because of the movement of exchange rates is clearly not the way to run an effective foreign policy."

Kinnock gave details of other overseas initiatives that had been cut due to the plummeting pound, including counter-narcotics in Afghanistan and conflict prevention in Africa.

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