Friday, January 29, 2010

Outcomes of London Conference on Afghanistan

A more stable and secure Afghanistan is vital to our national security and to that of the wider world. We can never allow Afghanistan to again be run by the brutal Taliban regime that gave safe haven to Al Qaeda – allowing them to launch attacks on the rest of the world as happened on September 11 2001.

To prevent this, the Government of Afghanistan (GoA) must be able to sustain its own security, exercise sovereignty over all its territory, offer its people representative government, bring about the conditions for economic prosperity, and play a constructive role in the region.

And the agreements between the international community and the GoA, made today at the conference, will be a springboard to bringing about the conditions for achieving these objectives.

In addition to the conference today, this week has seen meetings in London involving NGOs, UK and Afghan businesses, the British Afghan diaspora, parliamentarians and women’s rights activists. We’ve also seen the announcement by the IMF and World Bank of $1.6 billion in debt relief for Afghanistan through the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative.

The more than 70 countries and international organisations present agreed today with the GoA:

1) To develop a plan for phased transition to Afghan security lead province by province to begin, provided conditions are met, by late 2010/early 2011.

2)Targets for significant increases in the Afghan Army and Police Force supported by the international community: 171,000 Afghan Army and 134,000 Afghan Police by the end of 2011, taking total security force numbers to over 300,000.

3)Confirmation of a significant increase in international forces to support the training of Afghan forces. In total, the US have increased levels by 30,000 and the rest of the international community by 9,000, including the German contribution taking total force levels to around 135,000.

4) Measures to tackle corruption, including the establishment of an independent Office of High Oversight and an independent Monitoring and Evaluation Mission.

5) Better coordinated development assistance to be increasingly channelled through the GoA, supported by reforms to structures and budgets.

6) A civilian surge to match the military surge, including new civilian leadership of the international community’s programmes, with the appointment of Mark Sedwill, previously British Ambassador to Afghanistan, as NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative, a new UN representative plus more civilians on the ground to support governance and economic development.

7) Enhanced sub-national government to improve delivery of basic services to all Afghans.

8) Support for the GoA’s national Peace and Reintegration Programme, including financial support for a Peace and Reintegration Trust Fund, to offer economic alternatives to those who renounce violence, cut links to terrorism and agree to work within the democratic process.

9) Support for increased regional co-operation to combat terrorism, violent extremism and the drugs trade, to increase trade and cultural exchange and to create conducive conditions for the return of Afghan refugees.

Together, these measures will ensure we meet the Prime Minister’s call to 'match the increase in military forces with an increased political momentum, focus the international community on a clear set of priorities across the 43-nation coalition and marshal the maximum international effort to help the Afghan government deliver'.

Key now is delivery. Using the solid base we’ve established today, over the next 12 to 18 months, alongside relentless ISAF and Afghan pressure on the insurgents, the GoA will increasingly take the lead in bringing security, prosperity, rule of law, human rights, and good governance to the whole of Afghanistan.

We’ll meet again in Kabul in the spring to assess progress and hone implementation, another step towards a stable and secure Afghanistan, and a safer world.

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