Cameron and Obama — we will not give up on the Afghanistan mission

‘We will not give up on the mis­sion in Afghanistan’, Prime Min­is­ter Cameron said at a joint press con­fer­ence with US Pres­i­dent Oba­ma yes­ter­day.

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British Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron and Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma stand at atten­tion dur­ing a state arrival cer­e­mo­ny on the South Lawn of the White House [Pic­ture: AP Photo/Charles Dhara­pak]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

The UK’s Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron is cur­rent­ly in the USA on an offi­cial vis­it. Yes­ter­day, he and US Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma gave a joint press con­fer­ence in Wash­ing­ton fol­low­ing dis­cus­sions the two lead­ers had held ear­li­er.

In the press con­fer­ence, Mr Cameron and Mr Oba­ma spoke about plans for the next phas­es of tran­si­tion in Afghanistan as well as fur­ther co-oper­a­tion between the US and UK mil­i­taries.

On Afghanistan, Mr Cameron said:

“Recent days have remind­ed us just how dif­fi­cult our mis­sion is and how high the cost of this war has been for Britain, for Amer­i­ca and for Afghans them­selves.

“Britain has fought along­side Amer­i­ca every day since the start. We have 9,500 men and women still serv­ing there. More than 400 have giv­en their lives and today, again, we com­mem­o­rate each and every one of them.

“But we will not give up on this mis­sion, because Afghanistan must nev­er again be a safe haven for Al-Qae­da to launch attacks against us. We won’t build a per­fect Afghanistan, although let’s be clear: we are mak­ing some tan­gi­ble progress, with more mar­kets open, more health cen­tres work­ing, more chil­dren going to school, more peo­ple able to achieve a basic stan­dard of liv­ing and secu­ri­ty.

“But we can help ensure that Afghanistan is capa­ble of deliv­er­ing its own secu­ri­ty with­out the need for large num­bers of for­eign troops.

“We are now in the final phas­es of our mil­i­tary mis­sion. That means com­plet­ing the train­ing of the Afghan forces so that they can take over the tasks of main­tain­ing secu­ri­ty them­selves.

“That tran­si­tion to Afghan con­trol, as agreed at Lis­bon, is now well under­way and, in 2013, this includes shift­ing to a sup­port role as Afghans take the lead.

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Prime Min­is­ter Cameron speaks dur­ing an offi­cial arrival cer­e­mo­ny on the South Lawn of the White House in Wash­ing­ton on Wednes­day, 14 March 2012 [Pic­ture: AP Photo/Charles Dhara­pak]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

“This is in advance of Afghan forces tak­ing full respon­si­bil­i­ty for secu­ri­ty in 2014, and, as we have always said, we won’t be in a com­bat role after 2014.”

Mr Oba­ma said of Afghanistan:

“The trag­ic events of recent days are a reminder that this con­tin­ues to be a very dif­fi­cult mis­sion. Obvi­ous­ly, we both have lost a num­ber of extra­or­di­nary young men and women in the­atre.

“What is unde­ni­able though, and what we can nev­er for­get, is that our forces are mak­ing very real progress, dis­man­tling Al-Qae­da, break­ing the Taliban’s momen­tum, and train­ing Afghan forces so that they can take the lead and our troops can come home.

“That tran­si­tion is already under­way and about half of all Afghans cur­rent­ly live in areas where Afghan secu­ri­ty forces are tak­ing respon­si­bil­i­ty.

“Today, the Prime Min­is­ter and I reaf­firmed the tran­si­tion plan that we agreed to with our coali­tion part­ners in Lis­bon. Specif­i­cal­ly, at the upcom­ing NATO sum­mit in my home town of Chica­go, we’ll deter­mine the next phase of tran­si­tion. This includes shift­ing to a sup­port role next year, in 2013, in advance of Afghans tak­ing full respon­si­bil­i­ty for secu­ri­ty in 2014.

“We are going to com­plete this mis­sion and we are going to do it respon­si­bly, and NATO will main­tain an endur­ing com­mit­ment so that Afghanistan nev­er again becomes a haven for Al-Qae­da to attack our coun­tries.”

On clos­er co-oper­a­tion between the UK and US Armed Forces, Mr Oba­ma said:

“We can help ensure that Afghanistan is capa­ble of deliv­er­ing its own secu­ri­ty with­out the need for large num­bers of for­eign troops.” Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron

“I am very pleased that we are bring­ing our two mil­i­taries — the back­bone of our alliance — even clos­er. As I told David, I can announce that next month we intend to start imple­ment­ing our long-await­ed defence trade treaty with the UK.

“This will put advanced tech­nolo­gies in the hands of our troops and it will mean more jobs for work­ers in both our coun­tries, and we are mov­ing ahead with our joint ini­tia­tive to care for our men and women in uni­form.

“For decades, our troops have stood togeth­er on the bat­tle­field. Now we are work­ing togeth­er for them when they come home, with new part­ner­ships to help our wound­ed war­riors recov­er, assist our vet­er­ans’ tran­si­tion back to civil­ian life, and to sup­port our remark­able mil­i­tary fam­i­lies.”

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK

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