The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Mr Philip Hammond:
I wish to inform the House that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, together with the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development, is today publishing the thirty-ninth progress report on developments in Afghanistan since November 2010.
The second round of the Presidential election took place on 14 June. Both candidates alleged widespread fraud; the IEC Chief Electoral Officer resigned following the release of an audio tape by the Abdullah campaign, allegedly of him discussing how to commit fraud. Abdullah rejected IEC proposals to audit the vote and withdrew from the process. Although outside the timeframe of the June report, the House will be aware that the situation deteriorated following the release of Preliminary election results by the IEC on 7 July, which gave Ashraf Ghani a commanding lead over Abdullah. Strong international community action, led by the United States, succeeded in bringing both sides to agree to a comprehensive and intrusive audit of 100% of the vote, and to work together towards a government of national unity. These events will be covered more fully in the July Parliamentary report.
Anti-Money laundering and Counter-Terrorism Finance legislation was passed by Parliament. The Taliban launched a major offensive in Northern Helmand. After the insurgents captured some isolated checkpoints and inflicted heavy casualties on the security forces, ANSF reinforcements stabilised the situation and retook much of the ground lost to the insurgents. NATO Foreign Ministers endorsed the Operational Plan for the NATO Resolute Support mission, and most countries re-affirmed their commitments from the 2012 Chicago Conference.
I am placing the report in the Library of the House. It will also be published on the gov.uk website Afghanistan: Progress Reports 2014.
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