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Afghanistan (Monthly Progress Report)

Volume 570: debated on Friday 22 November 2013

I wish to inform the House that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, together with the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development, is today publishing the 32nd progress report on developments in Afghanistan since November 2010.

The Prime Minister hosted a trilateral meeting in Downing street on 29 October with President Karzai of Afghanistan and Prime Minister Sharif of Pakistan. The three leaders discussed Afghanistan/Pakistan economic co-operation and the Afghan-led peace process, to which they reaffirmed their continuing commitment. This was the fourth in a series of leader-level trilateral meetings, and the first under the new Pakistani Government.

During October a number of figures from across the Afghan Government and wider authorities resigned their positions in order to stand in the 2014 elections. These included the Minister for Foreign Affairs Zaimai Rassoul, the Minister for Mines Wahidullah Shahrani, the Minister for Commerce Anwaral-Haq Ahadi, and Minister for Energy and Water Ismail Khan.

The UK supported the Helmand National Investors Association (HNIA) capacity-building project which was completed in October. HNIA will help improve the local business environment and increase the ability of firms to provide employment in the region. By assisting Afghan organisations like the HNIA, the UK has helped to ensure the conditions for private sector development continue in Helmand after transition.

The UK has committed to making Herat province free of mines and unexploded ordnance by 2018. Latest reporting published in October shows that over the last six months, UKAid has cleared more than 258 hectares of minefield and 322 hectares of battlefield in Herat province. More than 7,000 families have benefited from land returned to productive use this year.

On 10 October 2014, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2120 on the international security assistance force (ISAF), Afghanistan. The resolution extended the authorisation for ISAF under chapter VII of the UN charter for a further 14.5 months, up to its departure on 31 December 2014.

On 20 October, the Afghan National Army Officer Academy (ANAOA) opened for the first intake of cadets to start their training. There are around 270 cadets currently undertaking training after 10,000 initially applied.

On 15 October, Lance Corporal James Brynin of 14 Signal Regiment was killed after coming under enemy fire during an operation to reduce the indirect fire threat in Nahri Sarraj. His death is a reminder of the continuing danger that our troops face as we draw down and focus our efforts on training and advising the Afghan security forces and our enduring debt of gratitude to them.

I am placing the report in the Library of the House. It will also be published on the website ( uk/government/publications/afghanistan-progress-reports).