The number of British troops in Afghanistan could be almost doubled, after the defence secretary wrote to the prime minister asking for more boots on the ground.

Gavin Williamson wants to increase Britain’s commitment to the country by an extra 450 soldiers – which would bring the total UK deployment to more than 1,000.

If Theresa May agrees, the news is expected to be announced at the NATO summit in Brussels in July. US President Donald Trump is expected to be present at that meeting of alliance leaders.

There are currently about 600 UK troops in the country, mostly in a training capacity.


UK army chief calls for Britain to commit more troops to Afghanistan

They are based in and around the capital Kabul, working with Afghan security forces. The enlarged presence would join that training role rather than engage in combat.

Special forces troops are also operating in Afghanistan alongside US counterparts.

Mr Williamson visited Afghanistan in March and met British troops working there.

His request follows the decision by Mr Trump to send an extra 3,500 American troops on top of the 11,000 already deployed.

There are a further 4,000 other NATO troops in the country and there is pressure to increase that by about 2,500.

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Reporters among 25 killed in Kabul

An MOD spokesman would not confirm the reports, but said: “The support the UK provides Afghanistan on security, development and governance is crucial to building a stable state and reducing the terrorist threat to the UK.

“We remain committed to NATO’s non-combat resolute support mission, in which we play an important role, and keep our contribution under constant review.”

Kabul has been hit by a number of bomb attacks in recent months.

In April, nine journalists were among 36 who died after a suicide bomber riding a motorbike blew himself up.

Hours later another suicide bomber attacked a NATO convoy in Kandahar province, killing 11 children and wounding five Romanian soldiers.

A BBC journalist was shot dead in an incident near the border with Pakistan.

There are fears Islamic State is trying to establish a foothold in the country, although the Taliban remains the greatest threat to peace there.

The Times has also reported fears in European capitals that Mr Trump will threaten to pull the US out of NATO when he attends the July summit.

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The US president has repeatedly expressed his frustration at some members not spending the required 2% of GDP on defence.

Although overall NATO defence spending is rising, some diplomats fear it is not rising quickly enough for the president’s liking.