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-first progress report on developments in Afghanistan since November 2010.
I announced drawdown plans for the Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in a written statement on 9 September. The PRT has already begun to decrease in size. By December 2013 we envisage a small PRT political and governance team moving to Camp Bastion, followed by the final closure of the PRT in March 2014.
On 3 September, the Independent Election Commission co-chaired a meeting of the ELECT II Project Board with UNAMA. The IEC provided an update on voter registration and preparations for the elections, and donors pledged additional funds to support the electoral preparations. Overall donors pledged USD$134m.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, visited Afghanistan 15-17 September. Her visit focussed on three key areas – the importance of ensuring gains made on human rights are consolidated, the issue of violence against women and the future of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission.
On 1 September, President Karzai appointed Omar Daudzai, the previous Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan, as Acting Interior Minister, replacing Mujtaba Patang.
The Home Secretary visited Afghanistan 22 – 24 September, meeting President Karzai, the Ministers of Interior and Refugees, the Head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), Afghanistan’s Intelligence Agency, and international ambassadors. The visit focused on a range of security and criminal issues affecting the UK (principally terrorism, drugs and migration).
On 1 September, the UK assumed lead nation status at the Afghan National Army Officer Academy. The Academy, which is designed to develop the future leaders of the Afghan National Army, will begin training by the end of October.
On 27 September, the Prime Minister announced that the UK will host the 2014 NATO Summit in what will be the final year of the ISAF combat mission in Afghanistan. The precise date for the Summit has yet to be finalised but its themes will be discussed in greater detail at the October NATO Defence Ministerial meeting in Brussels.
I am placing the report in the Library of the House.
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