UK renews continued assistance pledge
KABUL (PAN) The United Kingdom has said that Afghanistan, despite making progress over the past 12 years, still faces considerable challenges in ensuring adherence to the rule of law and respect for human rights.
“I reaffirmed that the UK, as part of the international community, will continue to work closely with the Afghan government on these issues,” the British foreign secretary said after a meeting with the visiting Afghan defence minister.
William Hague said he also discussed with Bismillah Mohammadi progress in security transition, a process he hoped would be implemented across Afghanistan in mid-2013.
In a statement from the foreign ministry in London, Hague welcomed the progress made earlier this month at the Chequers Summit, where Afghanistan and Pakistan reaffirmed their commitment to an Afghan-led peace process.
“We discussed progress on implementing the Pakistan-Afghanistan agreements on military cooperation made at Chequers,” he added, stressing the need for a strong relationship between the neighbours.
During his first visit to the UK as defence minister, Mohammadi also met British Secretary of State for Defence Philip Hammond and visited Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
He saw the world-class training delivered to officer cadets, including Afghan personnel, and was able to discuss developing plans for the Afghan National Army Officer Academy, which will be modelled on the British institution.
Currently under construction, the academy in Kabul will involve a significant number of British military advisors, supported by allies.
It will also form a major part of the UK’s post-2014 commitment to Afghanistan and once fully operational will have the capacity to train up to 1,350 male students and 150 female students every year.
“I am here to discuss the continued commitment of the UK as the ISAF mission draws down and the new post-2014 mission becomes more defined. I understand the UK’s future involvement in the enduring partnership with Afghanistan,” the visiting minister said.
He promised the UK’s blood and treasure spent in Afghanistan would not go in vain. “The work of your forces in Helmand will endure as the Afghan forces continue to take the lead in operations...”
For his part, Hammond said their combat mission was drawing to a close, but Britain’s commitment to Afghanistan would last for many years. The Afghan Army Officer Academy would be a key pillar of that, he added.