HT Image
HT Image

Blair to call for perseverance over Kabul

The British PM will call on the international community to stand firm in Afghanistan, Iraq and against Islamist extremism.
None | By Agence France-Presse, Canberra
UPDATED ON MAR 27, 2006 11:36 AM IST

British Prime Minister Tony Blair will call on the international community to stand firm in Iraq and Afghanistan and against Islamist extremism in a keynote foreign policy speech here on Monday.

"If the going is tough, we tough it out. This is not a time to walk away. This is a time for the courage to see it through," the British Labour Party leader is expected to tell a joint session of the Australian parliament in Canberra.

Iraq is currently in the grip of spiralling violence -- and a debate about whether it constitutes civil war. In addition, there are concerns about a resurgence of the hardline Taliban militia in Afghanistan.

Blair will expand on themes introduced in London last week in the first of three planned foreign affairs speeches, in which he defended his "interventionist policy" in Iraq and criticised those who seek to derail moves towards democracy there.

According to excerpts released by his office, Blair will stress the need for a "global alliance for global values", arguing that worldwide links in areas like economics, communications and culture also applied to politics.

But triumph in the struggle for "values and progress" -- the opposition to which he last week called "a clash of civilisation... a battle about modernity" -- was not just about military might, he will say.

Democratic values are not simply Western, American or Anglo-Saxon, but "values in the common ownership of humanity", he will emphasise.

He will tell lawmakers in the address -- the first to a joint sitting of the Australian parliament by a British prime minister -- that the challenge ahead was to demonstrate to opponents that those values were universal.

"This is about justice and fairness as well as security and prosperity. And in truth, there is no prosperity without security and no security without justice. That is the consequence of an inter-connected world."

He will cite the Middle East conflict, poverty in Africa, climate change and ongoing World Trade Organisation wranglings as proof of the need for a more joined-up, steadfast and effective international approach.

"If we want a secure our way of life, there is no alternative but to fight for it," he will say. "That means standing up for our values, not just in our own country but the world over.

"We want to construct a global alliance for these global values and act through it."

Blair -- who faces increasing calls to step down following a series of domestic political controversies -- will make a third foreign policy speech in Washington on a date to be announced.

It will set out his views on reforming world institutions to implement that vision, according to his office.

It will also concentrate on the Middle East, including Hamas, the Islamist resistance group that won a shock victory in the Palestinian elections in January.

Story Saved