- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 18, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) - Britain’s Defense Secretary John Hutton is weighing in with U.S. counterpart Robert Gates on a U.S. review of policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Hutton says Britain is offering expertise from its long history of interaction with the Pakistani military and operations in the region.

The two officials were to discuss on joint military operations in Afghanistan. The British military has nearly 9,000 troops in the country and has lost 152 personnel since U.S.-led forces toppled the Taliban in 2001.

Ahead of his meeting with Gates Wednesday, Hutton also announced a major arms purchase in the Joint Strike Fighter program. He said that Britain would buy test aircraft giving a boost to one of the U.S. Defense Department’s largest weapons programs.

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