William Hague (Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)
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 18th progress report on developments in Afghanistan since November 2010.
At the NATO summit in Chicago on 20 and 21 May, the international community demonstrated its enduring support to Afghanistan beyond the end of security transition. International security assistance force (ISAF) partners delivered on the commitments made at the Bonn conference with credible financial contributions to sustain the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) beyond the withdrawal of ISAF troops. They also agreed NATO’s long-term role in Afghanistan up to and beyond 2014. The summit sent a clear message to the Afghan people that we will not abandon them. It also sent a clear message to the insurgency that they cannot wait us out. The summit communiqué reaffirmed NATO’s commitment to full implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on women, peace and security. It also endorsed a strategic progress report to make UNSCR 1325 an integral part of NATO-led operations and missions.
At Chicago, partners also noted the progress in security transition and welcomed the recent announcement of tranche three in May. They looked ahead to the mid-2013 milestone, the point at which the fifth and final tranche is expected to begin and the ANSF will take on lead security responsibility across the country. When transition completes at the end of 2014, the ANSF will have full security responsibility and ISAF will move away from a combat role.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development will attend the Tokyo conference on 8 July. It is vital for the Tokyo conference to deliver much-needed aid commitments. This will complement the security commitments made at Chicago, to ensure Afghanistan continues to develop long after international troops have departed.
We encourage all international partners to commit at Tokyo to stand by Afghanistan for the long-term and provide concrete aid pledges for at least the period up to 2017. The Afghan Government will have to demonstrate clearly that they are serious about fighting corruption and making key policy reforms, to persuade the international community to continue to provide assistance.
On 13 May, the Afghan Government announced the third tranche of areas to enter transition. Once tranche three begins, 75% of the Afghan population will be living in areas where ANSF have lead security responsibility. Tranche three, which includes a number of challenging areas, will include Nahr-e Saraj, the third and final area within the UK’s area of operation to begin transition. Lashkar Gah and Nad-e-Ali entered transition in tranches one and two respectively. Transition in these tranches has progressed well, with ANSF capability continuing to improve. The process remains on track for transition to complete in all areas of the country by the end of 2014.
I am placing the report in the Library of the House. It will also be published on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website (www.fco.gov.uk).