» Wednesday, July 20, 2005

International Conference

Asked how advanced the planning for the international conference on tackling extremism was, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that we had a clear idea about what we wanted such a conference to do. We were actively exploring possible venues and locations and we were also actively talking to other countries about such a conference. In response to the suggestion that we had not got very far down the road, the PMOS said that the reality was that there were a number of different conferences that were taking place around the world already. We were clear in our view about what a conference like this might achieve. However with a conference like this you did not announce the detail without consulting other people first. It was similar to a party in that way: you did not announce the guest list before inviting them first. Asked what such a conference might achieve, the PMOS said that what we would want, as with activity in this country, was to achieve a consensus about how we took on, in a reasoned argument, the extremists. As well as how we dealt with the problem of the extremist and fundamentalist strain of Islamic thinking. Asked whether there would be an Islamic decree from clerics or some such product from the conference, the PMOS said he thought it would be a wider gathering than just clerics. It would no doubt be more representative of Muslim communities across the world and governments as a whole. We should not put the cart before the horse. We needed to think through what it was that we wanted to achieve from this, in other words define the content and then define what the mechanism might be used as way of expressing it.

Briefing took place at 17:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)


Asked if we would be inviting Muslim extremists to express their views at the conference and whether it would achieve anything if we did not, the PMOS said that there seemed to be, to use the Prime Minister's words of yesterday, a twisted logic that in some way we had to get extremists on board. What we were actually doing was tackling head on the extremist viewpoint and mobilising the moderate Muslim element along with other mainstream thinking to take on that extremist view. This was not about bartering with the extremist view. It was about taking on that debate at a local, national and international level. The twisted logic was that in some way you had to concede to the extremist viewpoint. You did not. In response to the suggestion that in Northern Ireland we had said that you had to deal with the guys at the sharp end, the PMOS said, without making comparisons between one group or another, that the reality in Northern Ireland was that the serious talking had only begun at the point at which people realised that violence was not the way forward and also at the point when people moderated their demands into demands for equality not absolute demands, as was still the case with Muslim extremism who demanded a Caliphate and the end of the Western presence. As the Prime Minister had said the central problem and difference, apart from the use of violence, was that their demands were of such a nature that you could not negotiate with them.

Briefing took place at 17:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Jordanian Memorandum of Understanding

The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman told journalists that this morning, we had reached agreement in principle with the Government of Jordan on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which would regulate the arrangements under which the Jordanians can provide us with the assurances we require regarding the treatment of individuals we might want to deport back to Jordan. The FCO would publish more details, and we would be working to sign this with Jordan as quickly as possible.

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

Soldier arrests

Put to the PMOS that the military were "furious" about the Attorney General's decision to try the British soldiers in the International Criminal Court (ICC), and what were we saying about the reasons, the PMOS said that this was being pursued by the Army prosecuting authority who had decided to take action with this case. It had been done under military law, not civil law, and it had nothing to do with the ICC, and therefore it was being done under exactly the same procedures which had been laid down for fifty years. The PMOS reiterated that it would be wrong to say this had been driven by the Attorney General.

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

Ken Livingstone Comments

Asked for further comments regarding Ken Livingstone's remarks earlier today regarding the London bombs and the relationship between various Western Governments and the Middle East, the PMOS said it would be wrong for him to act as a commentor. People recognised that in the past, the Prime Minster and Mr. Livingstone had different views of the world, but equally, we recognised that Mr. Livingstone, as the chief elected official in London had given real leadership at this difficult time.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (3)

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