British Armed Forces chief general, Sir David Richards, has for the first time revealed that the UK would begin reducing its 10,000-strong army in Afghanistan by early 2012.

“Come 2012 there will be scope for slow reductions, but with our eyes on the fact the Taliban will still be around we will do it cautiously,” he said.

The British Prime Minister David Cameron had suggested that a reduction could begin next year but the current troop levels were needed to be maintained throughout 2011.