HC Deb 08 March 2004 vol 418 c1315W
Mr. Ancram

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions his Department has had with(a) the International Security Assistance Force, (b) NATO, (c) the UN Secretary General's Special Representative to Afghanistan, (d) the EU's Special Representative to Afghanistan and (e) other organisations and governmental representatives based in Afghanistan regarding the need to increase the number of international troops on the ground in Afghanistan in the build up to and carrying out of elections in Afghanistan. [158837]

Mr. Straw

NATO took over leadership of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in August 2003. The UK has been closely involved with other allies in discussions in NATO of plans for the expansion of ISAF beyond Kabul. My right hon. Friends the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Defence and I met the NATO Secretary-General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, in London on 12 February 2004; our discussions included Afghanistan.

The UK regularly discusses preparations for elections with the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative, Jean Arnault, with the EU Special Representative, Francesc Vendrell, and with the Afghan transitional administration. We also meet regularly in Kabul and London with non-governmental organisations working in Afghanistan to discuss a wide range of issues, including security and election preparations. I visited Kabul on 5 March where I had discussions with President Karzai, Foreign Minister Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Monsieur Arnault and others.

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