Page last updated at 18:18 GMT, Tuesday, 12 April 2011 19:18 UK

David Miliband says he no longer dreams of being PM

Miliband warns of dangers of not building framework for Afghan end game

David Miliband has told the BBC that he no longer harbours ambitions of becoming Britain's prime minister.

When asked by Newsnight's Jeremy Paxman "Do you still dream of being prime minister?", he answered "No, I don't".

Mr Miliband, long considered a future Labour leader, stepped down from front line politics after narrowly losing the leadership race to his brother, Ed.

Mr Miliband also spoke about the Afghan conflict which he warned was in danger of becoming a forgotten war.

The former foreign secretary said that rather than dreaming of being prime minister "the important thing is that I sleep soundly and the thing that wakes me up in the morning is my kids coming to jump on top of me".

The American surge has taken place, but without a political framework, a political settlement, then we are going to be getting closer to the end date of 2014, but without and end game and I think that is dangerous
David Miliband

He said that since stepping down from front line politics he has been concentrating on the things which are important to him.

"I am absolutely determined to play my part in the causes that matter, and one of the causes that matters to me is foreign policy, one of them is environmental policy and climate change, and one of them is the determined attempt of the Labour Party, under Ed's leadership, to win the next election."

Mr Miliband remains a Labour Party MP and while parliament is on its Easter break he has travelled to the US where he is to make a speech on the need for a political settlement in Afghanistan at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on Wednesday night.

'Critical time'

Speaking to Newsnight he said that it was inevitable that international attention has shifted to the Middle East and North Africa in recent weeks, which has been the scene of political change and unrest.

However, he said it was "very important that we recognised the importance of the current moment in Afghanistan".

"The American surge has taken place, but without a political framework, a political settlement, then we are going to be getting closer to the end date of 2014, but without an end game and I think that is dangerous."

Nato leaders have agreed a timetable for ending combat operations and handing over control of security in Afghanistan to Afghan forces by the end of 2014.

Taliban demand

Mr Miliband said that a United Nations mediator needed to be appointed to talk to all of the sides involved in the conflict, including the Taliban and other Afghan groups, and neighbouring countries including Pakistan, to help with the establishment of a political settlement.

US troops in Afghanistan
Western forces are due to hand over security control in 2014

"The purpose of all of our activity, be it military or development, has to be servicing a sustainable political settlement in Afghanistan."

"The truth is that the Taliban wants to know the position of the Western powers and until the Western powers, led by the US and the UK, set out our position on the end game, about the presence of foreign forces, about political settlement in Afghanistan, we are not going to get a political process of real weight and drive."

Mr Miliband called for urgent action on this issue, warning that as 2014 approaches Western leverage over Afghanistan will diminish.

He acknowledged that there had been security gains made in some parts of Afghanistan in the past few years, notably in the south of the country, but warned that "the security improvement in some parts of the country should not be allowed to obscure the fact that without a national and local set of political settlements you are not going to be able to bring any kind of stability to the country".

Watch David Miliband's full interview with Newsnight on Tuesday 12 April 2011 at 10.30pm on BBC Two, the afterwards on the BBC iPlayer and Newsnight website.



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