Page last updated at 22:11 GMT, Monday, 23 November 2009

Queen's speech debate: Foreign affairs and defence

Foreign Secretary David Miliband has defended continuing British military involvement in Afghanistan in the face of growing unrest on both sides of the Commons.

In resumed debate on the Queen's Speech on 23 November, Mr Miliband said it was "completely reasonable" to stick with the plan of building up Afghan security forces to withstand the Taliban insurgency.

Shadow foreign secretary William Hague said: "Simply stated, for us our objective must be to help Afghans reach the point where they can look after their own security without presenting a danger to the rest of the world.

"That means doing our utmost not to let Afghanistan fall back into even greater chaos."

Liberal Democrat spokesman Edward Davey told MPs that recent announcements from Gordon Brown and Mr Miliband about a change in strategy for Afghanistan had gone "some way" to reassure his party about the virtues of remaining in the country.

A lack of progress had led the Lib Dems to question the current policy for Afghanistan, Mr Davey said, but he added: "If the strategy of ISAF is about to change in ways we have argued for, and in the ways you and the prime minister have been alluding to, we will of course continue to support the mission in Afghanistan."

But the government faced calls from Labour former minister Frank Field and Plaid Cymru's Adam Price for a Commons vote on Britain's role in Afghanistan and a timetable for transferring responsibility for security to the Afghan forces themselves.


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