PRIME MINISTER – AFGHANISTAN STRATEGY – 5 December 2012

Dr Julian Lewis: What is the Prime Minister's strategy to deal with any re-emergence of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan after 2014?

[The Prime Minister: Before I answer my hon. Friend's question, I am sure the whole House would wish to join me in congratulating the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the wonderful news that they are expecting their first child. This is the perfect piece of news to end what has been an extraordinary jubilee year.

Turning to my hon. Friend's question on Afghanistan, the threat to global security from the al-Qaeda presence in Afghanistan has been significantly reduced. This is in large part the result of the brave work of UK, international security assistance force and Afghan armed forces. We remain committed to Afghanistan for the long term, and we will continue to support the development of the Afghan national security forces after 2014 through continued funding and involvement in training. Our continued contribution to aid and the political process, combined with our armed forces' efforts, underpin a state that is capable of policing its own lands. It is by this path that al-Qaeda will, I believe, be unable to re-establish itself in Afghanistan.]


[SUPPLEMENTARY:] The Taliban have been told when most of our troops will be leaving, and they need to be told what sanctions to expect if they help al-Qaeda to return. What would those sanctions be and would an allied regional strategic base serve to make them credible?

[The Prime Minister: The most important sanction for everyone to bear in mind is the fact that the Afghan national security forces are already at a level of 335,000 and are increasingly capable and increasingly able to police and secure their own country, but of course we will continue to be involved, not least through the officer training academy we will establish. The Americans will have a strong relationship –  as we will have a strong relationship – with the Government of Afghanistan, and we will obviously want to help them in all the ways we can to ensure that Afghanistan never again becomes a haven of international terror.]