London: Cash-strapped Britain may speed up the withdrawal of up to 4,000 of its troops from strife-torn Afghanistan before the end of 2013 under proposals to be considered by the cabinet next week.

"A sharp acceleration in troop withdrawal is one of three options to be considered by the Prime Minister, and is understood to be favoured by at least two senior members of the cabinet, who want to cut the costs of the decade-long military campaign,” a report said.

Prime Minister David Cameron is to hold a meeting of the National Security Council on Tuesday.

Under the proposal, the number of British troops in Helmand province would be cut from 9,000 to 5,000 during 2013, and almost the same number would come out the following year – leaving a few hundred in Kabul when NATO ends its combat role in 2014.

But any plans to speed up the pullout would be in defiance of NATO commanders leading the International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul.

A third option to be put before Cameron involves a fudge of these two positions. This would be likely to see a further 2,500 British troops leave Afghanistan in 2013, bringing the total to 6,500.

The National Security Council meeting will run through the different scenarios amid growing international concern about the future of Afghanistan, with ISAF pushing for decisions early next year for planning and operational reasons, the report said.

Earlier this year, US President Barack Obama announced that 30,000 American troops would leave Afghanistan this year and next, leaving 68,000 - by far the largest contingent.