» Friday, January 25, 2008

President Karzai

Asked what the Prime Minister would be saying to the President of Afghanistan and if he would be addressing the criticisms regarding British policy in Afghanistan, the PMS replied that the meeting between the Prime Minister and President Karzai would be quite short and that they would use this time to take stock of the situation. As was known, the Prime Minister had had lengthy discussions with the President when he was in Afghanistan in December; they had also met when President Karzai was in London in the autumn. They were in regular contact; they had good, constructive meetings before Christmas and the meeting this afternoon would be a short one to catch up and take stock.

Asked what the reaction to President Karzai’s criticisms had been, the PMS said that, as the Foreign Office had been saying, our strategy in Helmand had been to work with the Afghan Government; to extend the authority of the Afghan Government throughout the province; to create a secure environment and to allow political and economic development. It was for those aims that our armed forces had suffered losses and shown great determination and bravery. It was important to emphasise that we were working closely with the Afghan Government in relation to political, economic and military issues in Helmand.

Put that there was a contradiction between what we were saying about working closely together and President Karzai’s criticisms about what we were doing, the PMS said that, from our perspective, we were working alongside the Afghan Government; he referred to the military engagement they had seen in December, where Afghans were very much in the lead and where advances were made in the Helmand province.

Asked if the Prime Minister believed that the British presence in Helmand had led to the return of the Taliban in that region, the PMS said that the Prime Minister would not accept that; we were working alongside the Afghan Government in order to drive out the Taliban from Helmand and we saw that very clearly in relation to the operation in December in Musa Qala.

original source.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news

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