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Afghanistan: Appointment Of Prime Minister's Special Envoy

Volume 669: debated on Thursday 24 February 2005

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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
(Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean)

On 16 February, during his one-day visit to Kabul, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr Jack Straw) announced the appointment of Lieutenant General John McColl CBE DSO as the Prime Minister's special envoy to Afghanistan.The appointment of Lieutenant General McColl is a signal of the importance the UK attaches to our ongoing commitment to the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan. Lieutenant General McColl will make a valuable contribution to our high-level dialogue with President Karzai and his government on the full range of our common strategic priorities, including reconstruction, security sector reform, the democratic process and counter-narcotics work. He will be working in a way fully complementary to that of the British Ambassador to Afghanistan, Rosalind Marsden, and her staff.Lieutenant General John McColl CBE DSO is currently Commander Regional Forces and Inspector General of the Territorial Army (CF/IGTA) at Headquarters, Land Command. He served as the first commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan in the first half of 2002 and is highly regarded by President Karzai and key Afghan contacts for the manner in which he discharged his responsibilities. In that capacity, Lieutenant General McColl developed a wide understanding of the challenges facing Afghanistan as it re-builds after more than 20 years of conflict, and a keen sense of the most effective support that the international community can offer. Lieutenant General McColl attended President Karzai's inauguration on 7 December at the invitation of the president.In his role as Prime Minister's special envoy. Lieutenant General McColl will visit Afghanistan two to three times a year, engaging with President Karzai and the Afghan authorities across a range of issues vital to the bilateral relationship. He will also continue to fulfil his Army duties as CRF/IGTA. General McColl's role will be subject to review after a year.