UK Prime Minister and Afghan President sign UK-Afghanistan strategic partnership

Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron and Afghan Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai met at Che­quers, Mr Cameron’s coun­try res­i­dence, where they signed an endur­ing strate­gic part­ner­ship between the UK and Afghanistan.

War­riors from the Afghan Nation­al Army head out on patrol with sup­port from British sol­diers (stock image) [Pic­ture: Sergeant Ali­son Baskerville, Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

The part­ner­ship is a sym­bol of the UK and Afghanistan’s shared vision for a secure, sta­ble and pros­per­ous Afghanistan able to main­tain its own secu­ri­ty and to pre­vent the coun­try from again being used as a safe haven for inter­na­tion­al terrorists. 

It reaf­firms both coun­tries’ com­mit­ment to peace, democ­ra­cy and respect for human rights, and sets out our agree­ment to con­tin­ue to co-oper­ate on polit­i­cal dia­logue, secu­ri­ty, gov­er­nance, devel­op­ment and cul­tur­al links. 

The sign­ing of the part­ner­ship on Sat­ur­day 28 Jan­u­ary 2012 builds on the Inter­na­tion­al Afghanistan Con­fer­ence in Bonn last year where the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty sent a strong mes­sage of com­mit­ment to Afghanistan’s long-term future. 

It shows that the UK will have a wide-rang­ing rela­tion­ship with Afghanistan which will con­tin­ue beyond the tran­si­tion of secu­ri­ty con­trol to Afghan forces and the draw­down of inter­na­tion­al com­bat troops by the end of 2014. 

Speak­ing from Che­quers at the week­end, the Prime Min­is­ter said: 

“The build-up of the Afghan Nation­al Army and Afghan Police Force is very much on tar­get and that is going to be one of the keys to the future sta­bil­i­ty and secu­ri­ty of Afghanistan. We also want to have a long-term rela­tion­ship with Afghanistan long after our com­bat troops have come home and that will hap­pen at the end of 2014. 

“We will have a long-term rela­tion­ship that will be based on the friend­ship of two sov­er­eign nations. That will be a rela­tion­ship about diplo­ma­cy, about aid, about trade, about invest­ment, and about very strong two-way diplo­mat­ic ties and con­ver­sa­tions like we’ve been hav­ing today [Sat­ur­day].”

Pres­i­dent Karzai thanked the Prime Min­is­ter and the peo­ple of Britain for their help in cre­at­ing a bet­ter, more secure Afghanistan. He said: 

“The sig­na­ture today [Sat­ur­day] of the agree­ment between us towards a long-term rela­tion­ship will take us into a future where Afghanistan will ben­e­fit from the assis­tance and co-oper­a­tion and help of Britain towards becom­ing a fun­da­men­tal­ly strong demo­c­ra­t­ic state free of ter­ror­ism and eco­nom­i­cal­ly bet­ter off.” 

The UK strong­ly sup­ports the Afghan Government’s efforts to achieve a more inclu­sive polit­i­cal process and take for­ward rec­on­cil­i­a­tion with those who are will­ing to renounce vio­lence, break with Al-Qae­da and respect the Afghan con­sti­tu­tion. At their meet­ing on Sat­ur­day, the two lead­ers also dis­cussed fur­ther reforms nec­es­sary, par­tic­u­lar­ly on the polit­i­cal track, to enable long-term sta­bil­i­ty in Afghanistan. 

The Prime Min­is­ter said: 

“I think part of achiev­ing that is not just what we are doing on the ground in Afghanistan with all the NATO part­ners, not just the long-term dis­cus­sions that we’ve been hav­ing but also the need — as the Pres­i­dent and I have often spo­ken about — for a polit­i­cal process that ensures that all Afghans, if they give up vio­lence, if they give up ter­ror, can play a part in a strong Afghan demo­c­ra­t­ic con­sti­tu­tion­al state for the future.” 

Mr Cameron reit­er­at­ed that the pace of the tran­si­tion of secu­ri­ty respon­si­bil­i­ty from the inter­na­tion­al coali­tion to Afghan secu­ri­ty forces will depend on the sit­u­a­tion on the ground. He said: 

“…between now and 2014 there will be oppor­tu­ni­ties for dif­fer­ent coun­tries to reduce their num­bers. Britain has her­self reduced our troop num­bers over the last year. I don’t want to see some sort of cliff edge in 2014 when all the remain­ing troops come out at once but clear­ly between now and 2014 the rate at which we can reduce our troops will depend on the tran­si­tion to Afghan con­trol in the dif­fer­ent parts of Afghanistan. 

“And that should be the same for all of the mem­bers of NATO who are all con­tribut­ing and help­ing towards a strong, sta­ble, peace­ful Afghanistan which is in all our interests.” 

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