NATO Summit

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Communities and Local Government – in the House of Commons at 3:43 pm on 8th September 2014.

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Photo of David Cameron David Cameron The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 3:43 pm, 8th September 2014

I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his response. He was right to say that this was the most important NATO conference for a generation. That is because we face multiple challenges—in Europe and Ukraine, with ISIL and the other threats around our very dangerous world. Let me take his questions in turn.

On Ukraine, the mood of the NATO meeting and the meeting I chaired with the Ukrainian President was that there should be no easing of the pressure on Russia. With regard to what NATO is doing for Ukraine, there is some important defence capability building being done on things such as command and control and ensuring that the Ukrainian army is properly managed. There is also support in the form of non-lethal equipment such as body armour and other facilities that countries are giving. It is important that we do not measure the NATO commitment to Ukraine through military support for war-fighting capabilities. The real measure of support is the EU and US approach on sanctions, which have been ratcheted up. As I have said in the House before, it is important that we keep up the pressure in that regard.

As for the new spearhead force, different countries will be contributing and Britain has got out ahead by making clear the nature of our commitment through the brigade headquarters and the battalion. I am sure that others will come forward with their contributions, but the right hon. Gentleman is right that the implementation of the NATO agenda will now be vital.

On the question of combating ISIL, I agree absolutely with what the right hon. Gentleman says about the need for an inclusive Government in Iraq. That is supposed to be being put in place this week. It has already taken time and it is a complex undertaking, but it is absolutely vital. I would argue that without that, it is very difficult to take the further steps that need to be taken, so it is vital that it is put in place.

The right hon. Gentleman asked about regional support. Jordan, as a partner nation of NATO, was at the conference and made a very strong statement about its support for squeezing ISIL. He asked whether NATO countries are properly pooling their resources, and this is where the 20% pledge on new equipment is so vital. When new equipment is commissioned, it should be properly interoperable between NATO countries, and increasingly it is.

On Afghanistan, the right hon. Gentleman is right to say that the way to secure our legacy in Afghanistan is to ensure that there is a proper political settlement. A lot of pressure is being put on Dr Abdullah Abdullah and Dr Ghani to bury their differences and form a Government together. They have promised to do that, but we need to see it happen. The right hon. Gentleman asked about the contribution that Britain will make to the NATO forces. Our principal contribution post the end of 2014 will be the officer training academy that President Karzai specifically asked for and that we are providing. That should put our contribution of troops for that facility into the low hundreds. Some other countries, most notably the United States but also Germany and some others, will have more NATO troops on the ground, as it were.

The right hon. Gentleman asked about the bilateral security agreement; both candidates have said that they will sign it, and I would expect it to be signed. As for his general point, what is required in Afghanistan, as in Iraq, is a combination of all the assets we have at our disposal. On occasion, that will include military assets, but the importance of politics cannot be underestimated. The future of Afghanistan will best be secured by an inclusive Afghan Government and the future of Iraq will best be delivered if there is an inclusive Iraqi Government.