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British Prime Minister to meet with U.S. Afghan commander

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron gestures during a press conference in Downing Street on October 11, 2010 in London, England. During the press conference the prime minister stated that British aid worker, Linda Norgrove may have been accidentally killed by a grenade detonated by a member of the U.S. rescue team rather than her Taliban captors. David Cameron said the rescue was being reviewed by the commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus. (Photo : Kirsty Wigglesworth / WPA - Pool / Getty Images)


London, England (KATAKAMI / CNN) — British Prime Minister David Cameron is scheduled to meet Thursday with America’s top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus.

The meeting comes less than a week after a British aid worker was killed during an operation to rescue her from kidnappers in Afghanistan.

Linda Norgrove may have been killed by a grenade thrown by American forces trying to free her, Cameron said Monday.

“It’s a long-standing meeting and has been in the diary for a number of weeks,” the Downing Street press office said this week, adding that the discussion will center on the strategy in Afghanistan. Petraeus also will meet with British Defense Secretary Liam Fox to talk about Afghanistan, it said.

An investigation into Norgrove’s death was to be launched this week and led by a senior officer from U.S. Central Command, an International Security Assistance Force official told CNN.

NATO and British officials had said earlier she was killed by her captors, who detonated an explosive.

But Cameron said Monday that statements made about Norgrove’s death over the weekend were “highly likely to have been incorrect,” although they were made “in good faith.”

Petraeus contacted him Monday morning, he said, with new information.

Cameron said he could not make a firm statement about the cause of her death until the investigation is complete. It will be a joint investigation between the United States and United Kingdom, he said.

One of the key components in determining what went wrong will be the autopsy, which will be carried out by British officials, the ISAF officer said.

The initial report on the rescue mission by the troops who carried it out did not mention throwing a grenade, but a follow-up report “raised a lot of questions about what killed” Norgrove, U.S. Navy Capt. Gary Kirchner told CNN after Cameron spoke.

The mission commander called Petraeus as soon as he learned a grenade had been thrown, Kirchner said, without naming the commander.

The investigation will be done “with all due haste,” Kirchner said. It will review the mission plan, communications and video from the operation, he said.

A “review of surveillance footage and discussions with members of the rescue team do not conclusively determine the cause of her death,” the U.S. military said in a statement Monday.

The British government aims to share as much of the final report as possible with lawmakers, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Monday.

Cameron said he believed “profoundly” that it had been the right decision to try to rescue her, although he looked shaken at times during his statement to reporters.

The rescue operation was planned and carried out by U.S. Special Forces, Hague told the House of Commons Monday after Cameron spoke.

He personally authorized efforts to rescue her by military action “within a few hours” of her being captured, Hague said. He said intelligence and weather conditions played a role in determining the timing of the operation.

Norgrove, who had been held hostage since late last month, worked for DAI, an agency that provides various services to developing nations.

She spent much of her career managing projects for farmers and rural workers.


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