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Asia: Diplomatic Service

Volume 488: debated on Tuesday 24 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what terms of reference Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles has been given in relation to his role as Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan. (256611)

[holding answer 12 February 2009]: The Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan will work closely with our ambassador in Kabul and our high commissioner in Islamabad, as well as co-ordinating with the other key Government Departments working on Afghanistan and Pakistan. He will focus on the cross-cutting issues facing both Governments, such as counter-extremism. He will work closely with his US counterpart, ambassador Richard Holbrooke, and will consult with other international partners to help build consensus and support for the Afghan and Pakistani Governments.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he had with the Governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan on the appointment of a Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan before Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles was appointed to that post. (256612)

[holding answer 12 February 2009]: Ministers and senior officials spoke to their Afghan and Pakistani counterparts to discuss the appointment of Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles on 6 and 7 February 2009. Our embassy in Kabul and high commission in Islamabad also discussed the appointment of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan with their host Governments before its announcement on 9 February 2009.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what staff will be allocated from his Department to Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles to support him in his role as Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan. (256613)

[holding answer 12 February 2009]: The Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan will have two members of staff allocated to support him. The Special Representative will also be able to draw on the expertise of Foreign and Commonwealth Office staff working on Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as several other Government Departments, and our missions in Kabul, Lashkar Gah, Islamabad, Karachi, and the wider region.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the post of Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan is additional to his Department's establishment; and whether the appointment has been made for a fixed period. (256615)

[holding answer 12 February 2009]: The position of Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan comes from the reallocation of existing resources within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The appointment has no fixed term but will be kept under periodic review.