The British Prime Minister on a visit to Afghanistan has told his country’s troops that their gradual withdrawal is based on success not failure. David Cameron said the number of terrorist plots originating from the region had been reduced. His pre-Christmas trip to Helmand province followed his announcement that thousands more soldiers would be returning home. “After 2014 there won’t be anything like the number of British troops there are now. There won’t be troops in a combat role at all. And we are able to do this draw-down from the 9,000 we have now in relatively even stages between now and the end of 2014,” said the UK’s prime minister. Some 9,000 British soldiers are now left in Afghanistan, following the withdrawal of 500 before Christmas. Over the course of next year the overall figure is due to be almost halved to 5,200. Like the US, Britain is to leave behind some troops after 2014 to help local forces with training and logistics. “The insurgency is still there, it’s not gone, but it doesn’t dictate things. The Afghan security forces are in control, the people enjoy the protection of their security forces and it’s now absolutely appropriate that we hand more and more of that control over to the Afghans,” said Brigadier Bob Bruce, Commander of Task Force Helmand Morale-boosing visits to Afghanistan around Christmas have become traditional. Cameron paid tribute to the 433 British soldiers who have died in the country and said it remained “deeply challenged”. It has been revealed that representatives from the conflict’s warring factions are holding talks in France, in a private initiative in which the French government is not involved.