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Monday, 22 October, 2001, 10:22 GMT 11:22 UK
Straw outlines Afghan vision
Refugees
Afghans continue to flee their homes
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has outlined his vision for the future of Afghanistan, insisting that the UK and its allies would not walk away once military action was over.

As the UK stands poised to announce the deployment of ground troops, Mr Straw suggested that military action was not in itself a long-term answer to the threat of terrorism.


Terrorists are strongest where states are weakest

Jack Straw
The stability of Afghanistan as a state would determine any chance of securing peace in the troubled country, he said.

Mr Straw said that, on a more general point, failing states anywhere in the world could no longer be ignored because the power vacuum created would be exploited by criminals and terrorists.

So bringing order out of chaos was one of the great foreign policy tasks of the 21st century, he argued.

He said that the 'domino effect' theory dominant in US thinking on communism during the Cold War was applicable to failing states, where chaos, civil war and terrorism "infects" neighbouring states.

The foreign secretary's thinking broadly follows that of the US and other coalition partners in Europe.

Most analysts envisage a broad-based government eventually determined by Afghan people themselves, with the UN in charge, backed by a long-term commitment for aid and support by the outside world.

Grand council

Diplomats have been working for weeks to bring together rival Afghan factions

There has even been talk of the long-exiled Afghan king returning to preside over a grand council to discuss the future. But there is still deep disagreement on who should take part.

Mr Straw said part of the reason for the current situation developing came about because the West turned its back on Afghanistan and allowed Osama Bin Laden to 'hijack' the country long before 11 September.

He will discuss the plan for Afghanistan with US Secretary of State Colin Powell in Washington later this week.

During his address in London Mr Straw outlined four key principles for the coalition:

  • The future of Afghanistan should above all be in the hands of the people of Afghanistan themselves.

  • A global coalition is needed to rebuild Afghanistan.

  • The UN should take the lead.

  • The international coalition has to make a long-term commitment.

    Mr Straw said: "Military action is not in itself a long-term answer but an essential first step in achieving our campaign aims.

    Safe havens

    "We are not going to predict how long military action will take but in time we need to be working out a robust plan for the future of Afghanistan.

    "Terrorists are strongest where states are weakest. Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda found safe havens in places not just in Afghanistan but where government and society have collapsed."

    Meanwhile, Downing Street says the government was in talks with the US about making further military contributions towards the campaign in Afghanistan.

    The announcement comes a day after US special forces staged their first ground raids against the Taleban, which were described as "successful".

    Special forces

    The spokesman said Britain's contribution was unlikely to be limited to air reconnaissance, refuelling and the two submarines that launched cruise missiles in the first phase of the war.

    It remains the government's policy not to comment on the activity of special forces such as the SAS.

    But the spokesman said it was well known that Britain had a "world renowned expertise" in this area.

    The spokesman said Mr Blair would be "completely straight" with the British people about the prospect of casualties.

  •  WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    The BBC's Shaun Ley
    "Mr Straw said history showed regimes could not be imposed"
    Jack Straw, UK Foreign Secretary
    "We need a broad based government"
    Niaz Niak, former Pakistan ambassador to the UN
    "The extremists should not be included"

    Key stories

    Background

    War view

    TALKING POINT

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    See also:

    22 Oct 01 | UK Politics
    British troops 'ready to go'
    20 Oct 01 | UK Politics
    US strikes 'effective', says Straw
    19 Oct 01 | UK Politics
    'Suspend the bombing'
    20 Oct 01 | South Asia
    Analysis: Military campaign so far
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