UK gov ministers offer online Q&A on Afghanistan

Your votes count (in choosing the questions, anyway)

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The British foreign and defence ministers are answering questions posed by all comers in an online forum, where the most popular questions are answered first. Thus far, public interest appears fairly low.

Secretaries of State Bob Ainsworth (defence) and David Miliband (foreign affairs) can be contacted online here until the end of today. Visitors to the site can pose a question of their own, or vote in favour of someone else's question. The most popular questions will be answered by the ministers.

Thus far participation doesn't seem to have been huge, with few questions gaining more than a handful of votes and none, as of publication, having garnered more than fifty-odd.

Mr Ainsworth will be giving his answers as defence minister - apparently in the form of video clips - tomorrow. He will also be engaging in a "live web chat" on the Prime Minister's website on Wednesday at 5pm UK time. Questions can be submitted in advance for those wanting to give him time to think.

The online engagement initiative has been organised as part of "Afghanistan: The London Conference", taking place at Lancaster House this Thursday. The conference will be co-hosted by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, President Karzai of Afghanistan and UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon. Various international ministers and bigwigs will attend.

The gathering will "match the increase in military forces with an increased political momentum, focus the international community on a clear set of priorities across the 43-nation [ISAF] coalition and marshal the maximum international effort to help the Afghan government deliver," according to Mr Brown. ®

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