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Counter-terrorism

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons at 3:33 pm on 3rd May 2011.

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Photo of David Cameron David Cameron The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 3:33 pm, 3rd May 2011

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his statement and for the way he has made it. He is absolutely right to praise the police and security services, particularly those in the security services who never get public recognition for the work that they do to keep people in our country safe.

The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to talk as strongly as he has about 9/11 and the memories people have of it. I am sure that everyone in the House remembers exactly where they were and what they were doing on that day, and how they felt, and he is right that we should use this moment to try to heal many of the divisions in our world.

On the specific questions, the right hon. Gentleman asks about Pakistan and the question, which I think will come up a lot, about who knew what and what we will do to find out who knew what. What matters most of all, as I said, is to back the democratic leaders of Pakistan, to work with them and those involved in security and military matters and to try to hold discussions with them together, which is what I did on my last visit to Pakistan.

On Afghanistan, the right hon. Gentleman asks how we can increase the urgency of a political settlement. That is absolutely the right thing to do, and again part of the answer lies in Pakistan and the discussions we can have with it to encourage all those involved to give up violence, to accept the basic tenets of the Afghan constitution and, critically, to renounce any link with al-Qaeda.

The right hon. Gentleman asks what more can be done to deepen the democratic process in Egypt and Tunisia. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary was in Egypt yesterday. One of the key ways of doing this is through the European Union, and Britain, along with others, is pushing very hard for a total update of Europe’s relations with its neighbourhood to make them more attractive and something that has proper conditions attached to them.

On Syria, the right hon. Gentleman asked what more can be done to step up the pressure. I agree that what is happening in Syria is unacceptable. We are leading a process in Europe of setting about applying proper pressure—an arms embargo and taking the association agreement off the table—and we are looking at further steps, including travel bans and asset freezes, and other things we can do to show that what is happening in Syria is unacceptable.

On Libya, the right hon. Gentleman asks whether we will stick to UN resolution 1973. Yes, we will. What I would say, though, is that this does not mean just sticking with the existing set of things we are doing. All the time, we should be asking what more we can do to raise the diplomatic, military and sanctions pressure; and within all necessary measures to protect civilian life, I believe that there are many more things we can do and should do to keep the pressure up.

The right hon. Gentleman is right that Hamas’s reaction is very regrettable. I do believe, though, that the middle east peace process is, if you like, the third leg of the strategy to fundamentally defeat al-Qaeda. The first leg is the attack on the terrorist network—the blow so successfully dealt yesterday—and the second leg is democracy and progress in the middle east, in north Africa and in Muslim countries, but the third leg is a middle east peace process that works. I am seeing Prime Minister Netanyahu tomorrow evening, and we will do everything we can in our power to encourage both sides to recognise the historic times that we are living in and the historic chance there is to forge a deal that will last.