Davey wants ‘tea with the Taliban’

By Alex Stevenson

The international community should harness the power of tea to win the struggle against the Taliban in Afghanistan, Ed Davey has said.

In his speech to his party’s autumn conference in Bournemouth Mr Davey described tea as “the most potent drug in Afghanistan”.

“It’s how peace deals have been struck in Afghanistan down the ages,” he said.

“You don’t win wars by fighting in Afghanistan. Witness the Soviets. Witness the three Anglo-Afghan wars fought by the British Empire. Witness Alexander the Great.

“In Afghanistan you win wars by getting your opponents, or at least some of them, to defect.”

He said a daily wage could persuade some to stop fighting. Pashtun nationalists could defect if reassured all foreigners will leave. The same could be said of tribal insurgents angry with interference from Kabul.

Mr Davey said the Lib Dems’ calls for a major review of strategy in Afghanistan were finally being answered by the government.

“We need not so much a military surge as a political surge,” he added, as he pressed the need to present the disparate Taliban groups with incentives to turn away from the insurgency.