» 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)

» Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Muslim Leaders Meeting

The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) outlined to journalists the outcome of the Prime Minister's meeting with Muslim leaders. There was a decision to set up a task force, or network, led by the Muslim community with the full support of Government. It would look, in part, at how we could take the debate forward in religious terms, in part, at political engagement and, in part, at a community level to deal with issues such a social exclusion. They had requested, and it was agreed, that they would meet the Met Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair next week. The group of 25 Muslim leaders that attended would also be meeting amongst themselves this evening to draw up an action plan ahead of their meeting with Charles Clarke tomorrow. So there was real follow through in the process. There was also universal praise for the Met police and the way in which they had handled events since the bombings.

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

Comprehensive Spending Review

Asked if the Prime Minister viewed the delay in the Comprehensive Spending Review as part of the orderly transition he had spoken of previously, the PMOS said he knew that someone would bring this up. The answer was no. The reasons for the delay were, as stated by the Chief Secretary, which was to allow comprehensive review and allow a much more comprehensive way of looking at real savings in departments and so on. We looked forward to the progress report in 2006. Asked about whether the Prime Minister had spoken to the Chancellor about this, the PMOS said that they had discussed the matter and came to an agreed view that this was the best way forward. It would be a joint report between Downing Street and the Treasury.

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

Special Advisors

Asked about changes to the regulations regarding Special Advisors to the Government, the PMOS referred journalists to the Cabinet Office.

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


The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) advised journalists that the Prime Minister would be meeting President Karzai of Afghanistan later today.  The two leaders would sign an Enduring Relations Agreement, which would confirm our long-term commitment to Afghanistan with a package of support for the next ten years. 

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

London bombings

Asked for a reaction both to Omar Bakri Mohammed's comment in today's Evening Standard that the London bombings had been the responsibility of the British people for electing Tony Blair as Prime Minister, and also to the UK leader of al Muhajiroun, Anjem Choudray, who had said, among other things, on the Today Programme this morning that anyone who sat down with the Prime Minister today would be sitting down with a tyrant and that another 7/7 was a very real possibility, the PMOS said that the views of certain individuals should not be mistaken for the views of the community as a whole.  It was important for us to listen to the vast majority of voices in the Muslim community, not just today but in the period since the bombings.  Those voices had not only outrightly condemned the bombings, but had also recognised that Muslims must take on the argument against the extremists within their own community.  Today's meeting with the Prime Minister was all about mobilising the moderate voice within Islam to take on the arguments within the Muslim community. 

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (4)

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