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NATO Summit 2014: PM speaks at Afghanistan session

Thank you Secretary General, and for your leadership over the last 5 years.

Let me welcome you all to the NATO Summit here in Newport, Wales. As Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, I am incredibly proud to have this opportunity to showcase all that Wales has to offer.

The stunning countryside here behind us. The brilliance of Welsh industry. And, above all, the warm welcome of the Welsh people.

The pictures around you are of the Brecon Beacons – which are not only beautiful, but explain why the British military are so tough and professional. They train here on a regular basis.

This is also the right place to discuss defence. Wales has more castles, medieval castles, per head than anywhere else in the world. More than 640 of them. I hope you get to visit them while you are in Wales.

We meet here at a solemn moment for our Alliance and the security of our nations.

It is absolutely right that we should begin this summit by paying tribute to the magnificent work of our armed forces and the sacrifices our brave men and women make, day in, day out, to keep us safe.

And I join the Secretary General and everyone else here in commending their bravery, dedication and selflessness.

We meet at a crucial time in the history of our Alliance.

The world faces many dangerous and evolving threats: it is absolutely clear that NATO is as vital to our future as it has been in our past.

Russian troops are illegally in Ukraine. The extremist Islamist threat has risen in a new form in Iraq and Syria. These are just 2 of the threats that we face.

NATO is the anchor of our security, and over the next two days we must reinvigorate and refocus this Alliance to tackle new threats and to ensure it continues to foster stability around the world.

This will be the last NATO summit before we end our combat mission in Afghanistan. And I believe we can be proud of what we have achieved there. The terrorist threat has been substantially reduced. We have trained up the Afghan forces so they can provide security across the whole country.

This year, the Afghan people voted in huge numbers in their presidential elections. Afghan leaders now need to come together to deliver the positive and peaceful outcome that the Afghan people deserve.

As we enter a new chapter in our relationship, we remain fully committed to Afghanistan and the hopes of the Afghan people for a peaceful, secure and prosperous future.

The best way to honour our fallen soldiers is by remaining vigilant, and ensuring that we enable the Afghan people to stop their country from once again becoming a haven for terrorists.

Of course, our courageous armed forces do not just serve in Afghanistan but in many countries around the world. They work tirelessly to keep us safe.

That’s why it is so important to me, personally, that today we are signing a landmark declaration which encapsulates our respect and commitment to our armed forces, and our determination to look after them and crucially their families – whether on the battlefield, or back at home.

So thank you for coming - you are very, very welcome here in Newport and in Wales. And I look forward to today’s discussion.

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