Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, and Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, on Sunday night called for an international political conference on Afghanistan to co-ordinate support and resources for the US-led mission there. The conference is designed to bring together a newly elected Afghan government with Nato, the United Nations and other key allies to agree a detailed strategy for 2010, a UK government insider said last night. The aim is about ensuring strong international backing [for the war], with a key focus on resources. Mr Brown and Ms Merkel announced the initiative at a joint press conference in Berlin on Sunday night. The two leaders, together with Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, will this week write to Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, who will organise the event. The conference is expected to be held before the end of the year, after the new Afghan government has been formed, with London and Kabul both touted as possible venues. The move follows growing public disquiet in a number of Nato countries about the cost and effectiveness of the eight-year long fight against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Concerns about the levels of casualties suffered by troops have been exacerbated by claims of fraud and ballot-rigging in the election. The Afghan election authorities on Sunday annulled some suspicious election results, under pressure from Western powers scrambling to salvage the credibility of a process marred by allegations of massive rigging. The Independent Election Commission announced its decision as it issued fresh preliminary results that showed President Hamid Karzai remains just shy of the 50 per cent of the vote he needs to avoid a run-off with Abdullah Abdullah, the former foreign minister who is now running second in the results. Western diplomats have been lobbying the commission not to include suspect votes that could inflame opposition unrest by swinging the first-round contest in favour of Mr Karzai before complaints of serious fraud have been resolved. A source in the Commission, whose chairman was appointed by Mr Karzai, said it had on Sunday planned to issue enough results to put the president beyond the 50 per cent mark. But it backed down under pressure from international officials. The prospect of an election dispute that leads to unrest or produces an administration with no genuine popular mandate would hinder a new US strategy aimed at convincing the population to side with the government against the Taliban. Ms Merkel on Sunday came under fire from opposition parties over her governments military deployment in Afghanistan, which is opposed by most Germans. Gregor Gysi, parliamentary head of the radical Left party, criticised the air strike against hijacked tankers ordered by German troops in Kunduz province on Friday. Mr Gysi called the resulting deaths of civilians unjustified and inexcusable. The British prime minister was on Friday forced onto the defensive, after Eric Joyce, a junior minister, resigned in protest at the governments handling of the conflict and its treatment of troops.