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Foreign Secretary at Kabul Conference

Foreign Secretary William Hague speaks at the Kabul International Conference in Afghanistan.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Speaking at the conference, the Foreign Secretary said:

“Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to be here, on behalf of the UK, with my colleague, the Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell. And I congratulate the Afghan Government on hosting this landmark conference. The number of countries represented here today demonstrates the extent of support for the Government and the people of Afghanistan. We are also pleased that civil society has been able to play a part.

Today’s Conference is an important step. It builds on President Karzai’s clear commitment to the Afghan people to renew efforts to bring about a secure, prosperous and democratic future for Afghanistan. We, in Britain, fully support that vision.

Central to delivering this vision are the key elements that we heard from the Afghan Government about today, specifically: a transition to full Afghan responsibility for security and a just and inclusive political settlement, but long term stability also means effective development.

We welcome President Karzai’s goal of Afghan led security operations within five years. The scale of the UK’s military contribution is a mark of our own commitment to the stability of Afghanistan, but long term stability rests on the growing Afghan capability to manage security. Both the army and the police are well on track to meet their 2011 growth targets. The transition to full Afghan security responsibility should be gradual and determined by Afghan capability, but it should be able to start soon. For our part, the UK will continue to provide support and training to the Afghan Security Forces until that goal is achieved.

At the same time the sacrifices and efforts of Afghan and international forces need to be fully supported by an intensified and reinvigorated civilian effort, Afghan and international, increasing in pace, coherence and impact on the ground.

In addition there needs to be a just and inclusive political settlement that works for all the peoples of Afghanistan. The outcomes of the Consultative Peace Jirga and the Afghan Reintegration programme presented today are key steps in taking forward this effort. Credible and inclusive National Assembly elections this September are part of this effort. We welcome the President’s commitment to ensuring that women play a full and effective role in the future of Afghanistan.

Military and political progress help create a platform for development through which more can be delivered to the Afghan people.

We feel that economic progress has been significant, with Afghanistan enjoying high levels of growth and revenue generation. The approval of a new International Monetary Fund Programme for Afghanistan and recent signing of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Trade Transit Agreement are welcome and significant steps in this regard. But that progress needs to be built on and more jobs need to be created.

So we will stand behind the Afghan Government and back its priorities. We are committed to maintaining and exceeding the 50% target of support through Afghan systems. But we will always need to see that the Government is making the best possible use of our, and its own money. This means continuing on a path of improved financial management and budget execution, as well as tackling corruption at all times. Much progress has been made, but more is needed. The plans set out today, including the Government’s fifteen priority programmes, provide the means for doing that in a coherent and sustainable way.

It is critical that these programmes make a real difference to people’s lives. And we welcome therefore the clear results and outputs set out in the Government’s Prioritisation and Implementation Plan. As our Prime Minister announced in June, the UK will increase its development assistance by 40% to £710 million over the next few years. Our commitment will be closely tied to progress and results.

All of us have a common interest in a stable, secure and prosperous Afghanistan and should continue to work together towards that goal. We must ensure that real progress is made, that all can understand and recognise.

And as the Government takes forward its commitments to its people, we can assure you that Afghanistan has the long-term support of a steady friend in the United Kingdom.”

Read the Kabul International Conference on Afghanistan Communique {pdf opens in a new window}

Published 20 July 2010