» Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Iraq

The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) briefed journalists on the Prime Minister's meeting this afternoon with five Iraqi Ministers. The message they had brought was very much one of support for what the UK was doing, both in terms of the military support we were giving, but also in helping them to drive forward the improvements on the economy, the civic infrastructure, such as the establishment of the judicial system, as well as trying to achieve security. They were in absolutely no doubt that the violence we had seen was being deliberately targeted at trying to stop the establishment of a democracy in Iraq. Their message to us was that we should do everything possible to help them prevent that happening.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Europe

Asked about the FCO event on EU enlargement this evening which the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary would be attending, the PMOS said the Prime Minister believed that, inevitably perhaps, there had been a degree of focus on the issue of migration in recent times. As he had said yesterday, that was perfectly understandable. However, as he would tell those attending the event this evening, EU enlargement should not be seen as a single-issue topic. This was a genuinely significant moment in the history of Europe, particularly when former Communist countries were joining the EU with many of the values and attitudes which we shared. The historic nature of this moment should not be lost. The opportunities it provided to the UK, as well as the accession countries and the EU itself, should not be under-estimated. Asked for a cast list of those attending the event, the PMOS said it would include about seventy young professionals from the eight central European countries, people from British accession country communities, including war veterans, business people, sports people, artists and entertainers who came from or had family roots in the accession countries, politicians from across the political spectrum, including former Europe and Foreign Ministers, relevant select committees etc. He referred journalists to the FCO for the full guest list.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Prime Minister

Asked if the Prime Minister would be marking his seven years in office this weekend, the PMOS said not as far as he was aware. He would remain focussed on his job, keep making the difficult decisions that were necessary and continue to drive forward the Government's agenda.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Iraqi Ministers

The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) advised journalists that the Prime Minister would be meeting a group of five Iraqi Ministers today. The group would include the Governor of Basra, who was also a member of the IGC, and the Ministers for Water Resources, Health, Agriculture, Science and Technology. They were in the UK to attend the Iraq reconstruction conference, which had taken place earlier in the week.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Iraq

Asked for an assessment of the current situation in Fallujah, the PMOS said that the hard reality of life in Fallujah at the moment was that insurgents had launched an attack on US troops. As a result, they had a right to defend themselves, which was precisely what they were doing. Obviously we would like to see the situation resolved politically. However, that would only be possible if the will for that to happen existed on the other side as well. Clearly, the balance between political and military aspects was one which had to be assessed at a local level.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (5)

Europe

Asked if he would agree that the Prime Minister's article for Le Monde today was offensive to President Chirac, the PMOS said no. If a French newspaper asked us for an article on Europe, it was sensible to write one setting out our position. The French Government's position on such matters was entirely a matter for them. The Prime Minister had told the President about his decision to hold a referendum on the EU Constitution during a perfectly amicable conversation earlier this week. In answer to further questions about the Le Monde article, the PMOS pointed out that the latest edition of Le Monde had not actually been published yet. It was due to come out later today.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Cricket

Asked why the Government was so reluctant to get involved in the ECB's dilemma over whether to play cricket in Zimbabwe, the PMOS said that we had set out the position on this issue many times in the past. Our view had not changed. It was a matter for the cricketing authorities to make their own decisions. We had provided them with an analysis of the situation in Zimbabwe, as they had acknowledged. Cricketers, like any other individual, had the right to make their own decision about what they should do.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

» Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Update from DowningStreetSays: Welsh Assembly now Online

Here at Downing Street Says we're deeply flattered to see that David Jones has taken our format and applied it to the Welsh Assembly to create Assembly Online. We wish him and his fine new site the best of luck.

Briefing took place at 16:33 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)

Iraq/Troops


Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Middle East

Asked if the Prime Minister's call for balance in expressing opinions about the Middle East was an implicit criticism of the former diplomats' letter to him, the PMOS said that as he had told journalists at this morning's press briefing, we were quite happy to have a debate about the Middle East and Iraq. Irrespective of the diplomats' letter, the Prime Minister's comments about the Israeli/Palestinian issue always emphasised the need for balance and the need to understand the position of both sides. That was our approach. It was for the diplomats to explain the approach which they were taking. As we knew from experience, without balance, people would not be able to address the full complexity - and pain - of the issue in question. Put to him that the Prime Minister had appeared to be indicating quite strongly today that he did not think the diplomats' letter was balanced, the PMOS said that our disagreements with the letter had been spelled out at this morning's briefing. In our view, it was important not to personalise the issue. Rather, people should be addressing the substance of the argument. For the Israeli/Palestinian issue, that meant taking a balanced approach. On Iraq, we believed that the country was capable of democracy and that we should help to bring that about.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

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