The Secretaries of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Defence, and International Development are today visiting Afghanistan. They will meet President Karzai, relevant Ministers and senior officials, in order to gain a better understanding of the situation in Afghanistan, of the options going forward, and of the further work we need to do. They will meet British troops, civilian staff, and visit a British funded development project.
The international effort to bring about a more stable and secure Afghanistan is vital to our national security. That is why this Government’s most urgent overseas priority is to focus on the strategy for Afghanistan, and why a tripartite visit has been organised so quickly.
The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, said:
‘Our most urgent priority is to get to grips with the situation in Afghanistan. It will consume a lot of our time, energy and effort and it is therefore vital that Ministers have a strong understanding of the issues. We need to give the strategy time and support to succeed, and we are here in Afghanistan to explore this at the earliest opportunity.’
The Secretary of State for Defence, Dr Liam Fox said:
‘I am delighted to be making my first visit to Afghanistan since being appointed Secretary of State for Defence, seeing for myself the situation on the ground with regard to UK forces and meeting senior military commanders and Afghan Ministerial counterparts. I am very much looking forward to meeting UK servicemen and women whose bravery, dedication, professionalism and very real sacrifice is playing an absolutely vital role in protecting the UK’s national security - the reason we are in Afghanistan.’
The International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, said:
‘Afghanistan remains one of the poorest countries in the world. There are few countries where the combination of our moral commitment to development and safeguarding our national interest is so enmeshed. Building the capacity of the state to guarantee security and stability, deliver development and reduce poverty is central to defeating violent extremism and protecting British streets. Looking at ways to improve the quality and impact of our aid will be a key part of this visit.’