Nato's top commander in Afghanistan has raised the prospect of a negotiated peace with the Taliban.
Ahead of a major London conference on the future of the country, US general Stanley McChrystal said there had been "enough fighting" and that he wanted to see a political solution to the long-running conflict.
His comments came as another British soldier from 3rd Battalion The Rifles died in Helmand province - the 251st British military death since the Afghan campaign started in 2001.
Gen McChrystal used a newspaper interview to say members of the Taliban could play a future role in governing the country.
He told the Financial Times: "As a soldier, my personal feeling is that there's been enough fighting, and that what we need to do - all of us - is to do the fighting necessary to shape conditions where people can get on with their lives, and everybody can make a decision where fighting's not the direction that it needs to go in.
"I believe a political solution to all conflicts is the inevitable outcome. And it's the right outcome."
Gen McChrystal said there was a "huge rank and file" in the Taliban that saw al Qaida as "essentially something from which they get no value and a tremendous amount of pain".
He added: "It's not my job to extend olive branches, but it is my job to help set conditions where people in the right positions can have options on the way forward."
The general has secured an extra 30,000 US troops and several thousand more from Nato countries to provide more security in the country.
Yesterday Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the Afghan government needed to bring the Taliban into the political system.