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Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said the massive logistical operation that is the withdrawal of British combat troops from Afghanistan is very much underway, but is complicated somewhat by the ongoing live insurgency. He said:
"We have to do all this while there is still a live insurgency on the ground, and we are very mindful of the fact that the enemy has vote on all this process, it is no good us planning how we are going to do without having regard to the possibility of enemy action.
The Defence Secretary has said he welcomes a report by MPs about the future of Afghanistan after British forces leave which he said shares the government's "vision".
Philip Hammond said: "I welcome the publication of this Report, which shares our vision of an Afghanistan that can maintain its own security and never again be a safe haven for international terrorism.
"The fact that Afghan security forces are now leading on more than 80 per cent of all security operations across the country, shows we are well on the way to achieving that aim".
A report by MPs on the planned British withdrawal from Afghanistan next year has outlined the following as priorities that need to be addressed among others:
- An Afghan-led peace deal with the Taliban is vital to ensure the country is stable and secure.
- Open and free elections
- All Afghan people, including women, must be involved in the peace process.
- Afghan forces should be given a chance to test themselves in more challenging circumstances.
- Continued development aid.
- A contingency plan to deal with a breakdown in security as UK troops pull-out.
The committee also stressed the importance of a "comprehensive and detailed lessons-learned process" to help frame future foreign policy and a "major review of what the UK has achieved and not achieved in Afghanistan in the period 2001 to 2014".
In a report published today on the future and stability of Afghanistan after the withdrawal of British troops in 2014, the Defence Select Committee said:
The start of an Afghan-led peace settlement with the Taliban is vital to ensure the war-torn country is stable and secure after the withdrawal of British troops next year, a group of MPs have said.
A report by the Defence Select Committee warned the failure to engage in a peace process with the insurgency could lead to civil war in Afghanistan, which has seen fighting for over a decade.
The committee also said the UK Government has a responsibility to use its influence to "make a post-2014 Afghanistan work".
But the lack of progress by coalition forces in reducing violence in the country "does not auger well for improving security and economic development on a long-term sustainable basis", the MPs added.