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Volume 624: debated on Wednesday 29 March 2017

Britain has a proven track record of supporting Afghanistan and a long-term commitment to the country’s future. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said on Monday, we will continue to support Afghanistan’s security and development because that is in Afghanistan’s interests, but also in our national interest.

Although huge progress has been made in Afghanistan on the education of women and girls, does the Secretary of State agree that long-term stability and prosperity in Afghanistan depend on women and girls being able to make a full contribution to business, political and civic life?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I saw that myself when I visited Afghanistan recently. Women and girls are key to delivering real and long-lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan. Its Government are fully committed to that and we will continue to work with and support them to achieve it.

Given the reported fall of Helmand province to the Taliban, what discussions has the Department had with other Departments on trying to eradicate the poppy crop in Afghanistan?

The hon. Gentleman raises a really important point, particularly in light of the many sacrifices that were made in Helmand province. We work across Government on the issue, including with the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence. We are working at every level to strengthen capacity and resilience in the country.

DFID funding has enabled significant progress in maternal healthcare, as well as in educating girls, in the federally administered tribal areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Would the Secretary of State be willing to meet representatives of the local charity, the Community Motivation and Development Organisation, which is a recipient, on their next visit to London?

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right about the vital and significant work that is being done. I would be delighted to meet those people when they visit London soon.