» Thursday, May 26, 2005

Prime Minister’s Travel/G8

Asked why, given the overlap between the Olympic bid announcement and the G8, the G8 had not been put back a few days so that the Prime Minister could attend both fully, the PMOS said that by the time the Prime Minister left Singapore for the G8 summit he would have done all that he could. He would have been on the ground for 48 hours and by that point he would have seen all that the people that he needed to see.

Put to him that the Prime Minister’s large travel schedule was an acknowledgment that the UK had failed so far to get their agenda for their G8 presidency across, the PMOS said he completely disagreed with the premise of the question. The UK had always recognised two things about the G8 presidency. Nobody in the G8 was arguing with the prioritisation that we had given to Africa and Climate Change. Secondly there was a real negotiation going on and we would not know the outcome of that negotiation until we got to Gleneagles. We were however seeing real signs of progress. We were not in any way dimming our ambitions for the outcome of Gleneagles but we did need to see where different countries position was before Gleneagles. There was the benefit of having as much face-to-face conversation with other world leaders as possible, that was why we would be going to Rome, Washington, Moscow, Berlin, Paris and have video conferences with Japan and Canada.

Asked if the Prime Minister would be collecting his Congressional Medal whilst he was in Washington, the PMOS said he was glad to see that journalists were getting into the detail about why we were going. The short answer was no.

Put to him that the main task of making progress with the Africa and Climate Change agenda would be to convince to US, the PMOS said that there was a real debate going on about how we made progress on those two issues. He was not going to give a running commentary on where we were. There was however a real focus on making genuine progress across the board. We should wait for the outcome in Gleneagles and then judge that outcome against where we were. We believed we were making progress, but it was for other countries to outline what they were prepared to do.

Put to him that perhaps we had set ourselves up for failure by setting the bar too high, the PMOS said that unless we were ambitious we would not make progress. Unless there was a real clear idea of what needed to be done and we had set out our analysis, others like the Commission for Africa had set out their analysis and on Climate change we had set out the key things that we needed to see happen in terms of making progress. Recognising the problem, focussing on new technology and bringing in the emerging economies. Unless you were ambitious about those things you were not actually going to achieve progress.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news

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