» Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Asked to comment on today’s Guardian splash which claimed that the UK was consulting Australia, New Zealand, Canada and other countries in order to set up a counter-insurgency coalition to combat al-Qaida and Taliban fighters in the south of Afghanistan once US forces withdrew next year, the PMOS said that he was as mystified to see the story on the Guardian’s front page today as he had been to see a report on the same issue on ITN last night.  He pointed out that this had first been announced in June 2004 at the Istanbul NATO Summit, at which we had said that the UK would take over command of ISAF from May 2006 to February 2007 and that we would deploy the Headquarters element of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC). 

Final details of the expansion to the south and east were still being planned.  However, it was important to recognise that it had always been the intention to expand into the south.  Therefore, the suggestion that, in some way, it was a result of a deterioration in the security situation in Afghanistan was clearly untrue.  Questioned as to whether the UK was consulting with Australia, Canada and New Zealand, the PMOS said that we were continuing discussions with our allies, as you would expect.  However, we had no intention of providing a running commentary on them.

Briefing took place at 17:00 | Search for related news

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