John Baron MP presses Defence Secretary on Taliban negotiations

December 21, 2012

MP calls for non-conditional talks in advance of troop withdrawal

In a statement on Afghanistan this week in the House of Commons, the Secretary of State for Defence, Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, gave the Government’s quarterly assessment of the situation. During the statement, the Defence Secretary announced that 3,800 British troops will be withdrawn during 2013. John has long advocated the need for non-conditional talks with the Taliban – a position that has been, at least publicly, ruled out by the Americans.

During the statement, John said,

“I welcome the statement, but some members of this House have long held the view that we were fighting the wrong enemy in the wrong country, and we strayed from the original mission.”

“Will the Secretary of State confirm ISAF are now conducting non-conditional talks with the Taliban? Until recently, the American position was that they would only talk to the Taliban if they laid down their arms and accepted the constitution. Has the position on these talks changed?”

The Secretary of State for Defence answered that there are conditional talks taking place between the Afghan Government and the Taliban, and that non-conditional talks with the Americans have also taken place.

Afterwards, John said,

“As part of our exit strategy, we must pursue some sort of a political settlement with those elements of the Taliban who are amenable. Possible common ground must be explored, particularly when it comes to al-Qaeda. However, the talks must be without preconditions or they will fail – something the Americans at least may finally be realising.”

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