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 forty-first progress report on developments in Afghanistan since November 2010.
After a protracted period of negotiation, Dr Ashraf Ghani and Dr Abdullah Abduallah signed the agreement forming a National Unity Government at the Presidential Palace on 21 September. The agreement committed Dr Ghani and Dr Abdullah to creating a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) position by presidential decree straight after the inauguration and to holding a Loya Jirga within two years to consider amending the Constitution to formalise the CEO role into that of an executive Prime Minister.
President Ghani’s inauguration took place on 29 September. The first democratic transfer of power from one elected President to another, marked a truly historic moment in the history of Afghanistan. The Ghani government signed the Bilateral Security Agreement and the NATO Status of Forces Agreement on 30 September.
The NATO Wales Summit discussed Afghanistan on 4 September. The meeting paid tribute to ISAF and Afghan sacrifices, recognised their achievements, and underlined continuing international commitment to supporting Afghanistan. A subsequent ISAF Declaration outlined in particular the NATO-led support envisaged for Afghanistan after 2014.
Following the NATO summit, on 8 September the Prime Minister told Parliament: ‘We reaffirmed our long term commitment to supporting a peaceful, prosperous and stable Afghanistan, including through our development conference in London in November.’ This is now planned for 3-4 December.
The Secretary of State for Defence travelled to Kabul on 23-24 September for a visit timed to enable him to deliver the keynote speech at the ceremony marking the graduation of the first Kandak (battalion) from the UK-sponsored Afghan National Army Officer Academy (ANAOA). He was the first international minister to meet with President Ghani and CEO Abdullah.
I am placing the report in the Library of the House.