» Tuesday, November 9, 2004

Middle East/Arafat

Asked if the lack of a Palestinian leader should lead to the postponement of the Prime Minister’s trip to Washington later in the week, the PMOS replied that not only was he was not going to prejudge the events in Paris, but also that the answer was "no".

Asked again if there had been any latest news from Paris regarding the health of President Arafat, the PMOS again said that he was not going to prejudge in any way.

Asked if President Arafat died, and what would be the possibility of Prime Minister Blair and President Bush starting to make policy announcements on Friday, the PMOS replied that as he had said all week, this matter was not about processology, but about the signal of intent. He stressed that what was needed if the Gaza withdrawal went ahead, as was expected, was to help the position of Palestinian authority in general. That meant helping it to develop a security, economic, administrative and political apparatus so there was not a vacuum in the Gaza area. That would also help develop the Gaza initiative into final status negotiations. All those steps were important and would continue no matter what happened.

Asked to clarify the meaning of security apparatus, the PMOS explained it was helping them through training mechanisms etc to develop the capacity to maintain security, and to therefore fill the vacuum that would be left by the Israeli withdrawal.

Asked if that was part of the EU effort, the PMOS replied that it was but the precise details still had to be worked out.

Asked what would be a US contribution, the PMOS said that he was not going to get drawn into discussions in advance of the meeting this week. He said that as he had cautioned all week, whenever people were at a particular stage of trying to restore momentum, it was a mistake to try and jump too far ahead in terms of processology. What was more important was that everyone got on board behind the process, and that momentum needed to be restored.

Asked about the other EU countries behind the momentum, the PMOS replied that there was a recognition at al levels, including on the ground in the Middle East, for a need to get things moving in the right direction.

Asked about the revival of the Roadmap, the PMOS answered that again, the Roadmap remained an important and integral part of the process, but it was about moving it forward.

Asked if the security process was therefore about sending more British troops in, the PMOS replied that the question was exactly what he was talking about jumping from A to Z in one step. He said again that he was talking about building up capacity.

Asked if Z was a possibility, the PMOS answered that it needed to be taken step by step, and everyone would have to be patient and not prejudge the final outcome. He said that what people knew the final outcome had to be two viable states living side by side in security. This was what was being discussed.

Asked if the Prime Minister was aware that people were looking very closely for a sign of his influence over President Bush at the meeting on Friday, the PMOS answered that what the Prime Minister was very aware of, were the real issues, which were to unite the world and deliver results. That was more important than trying to keep a scorecard of influence. As the Prime Minister had said, he did not support the war on terror, the problems in Iraq or the Middle East peace agreement because he was an ally of the US. He supported them because he believed they were right in themselves, and therefore it was right to work with the US and others to address those issues. That was the essential difference in the perspective between those who were trying to keep a scorecard which was counterproductive, versus those who were trying to address the problems.

Asked about the Prime Minister’s conversations with President Bush since the election and if he was confident that the President was going to address those issues, the PMOS replied that he was not going to act as a commentator on President Bush’s views. The best person to ask would be President Bush.

Asked if the Prime Minister accepted that there would be permanent settlement by the Israelis on the West Bank, the PMOS answered that he would refer people to the Prime Minister’s comments in the Rose Garden during the last set of talks with President Bush in which he said that Gaza was a useful first step. It was not, however, a first step that precluded final negotiations, or in any way took for granted the outcome of those negotiations.

Asked about President Bush’s comments regarding the Sharon plan said he recognised that it was not the final step.

Asked about the fact that the last time the Prime Minister returned from the US after talks with President, there was a letter from 52 former Ambassadors complaining that he had not exerted enough influence US foreign policy and was there concern that the same may happen again, the PMOS replied that again, what was important was what was achieved, not keeping a scorecard.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Search for related news

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Post a public comment

(You must give an email address, but it will not be displayed to the public.)
(You may give your website, and it will be displayed to the public.)


This is not a way of contacting the Prime Minister. If you would like to contact the Prime Minister, go to the 10 Downing Street official site.

Privacy note: Shortly after posting, your name and comment will be displayed on the site. This means that people searching for your name on the Internet will be able to find and read your comment.

Downing Street Says...

The unofficial site which lets you comment on the UK Prime Minister's official briefings. About us...


November 2004
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
« Oct   Dec »

Supported by


Disruptive Proactivity

Recent Briefings



Syndicate (RSS/XML)



Contact Sam Smith.

This site is powered by WordPress. Theme by Jag Singh