UK’s Afghanistan ambassador stresses need to negotiate with ‘unsavoury people’

Sedwill.jpgUK and international forces will need to negotiate with insurgents, warlords and people responsible for serious human rights abuses in order to achieve stability and halt the deathtoll in Afghanistan, according to the UK’s out-going ambassador to the country.

Mark Sedwill
, speaking at a sold-out Frontline Club event ahead of the London Afghanistan Conference this week, said: "If we are to bring conflicts like this to an end that means talking to some pretty unsavoury people. I’m afraid that’s one of the hard choices we’ll have to make in Afghanistan."

Earlier in the day, it was announced that Sedwill will be appointed NATO’s senior civilian representative in Afghanistan, a key role in leading the country’s reconstruction. He will work closely with NATO’s commander in Afghanistan, general Stanley McChrystal.

Sedwill said he was "confident" that international military and civilian efforts would succeed in the country – bolstered by the deployment of an extra 40,000 US and NATO troops.

But he was candid about the grim security situation in the south and east, admitting that the number of deaths has rarely fallen below 300 per week. "There is no question that security has deteriorated year on year since the campaign started and 2009 was the worst on record," he said. Sedwill said to expect a "fairly radical relaunch" if the current plan isn’t working by then.

Responding to a leaked communique (via Times Online), which predicts British troops to stay in Helmand province for five years, Sedwill said he subscribes to a "three-to-five year" view for British troops, but warned that NATO troops could be on the ground for "a decade or more".

Here’s our podcast from the evening…

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