» Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Middle East

Asked whether he would make any analysis of his Middle East trip in the speech, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister would refer to, in the general sense, a desire to move forward. We needed to continue to push it forward. The proposal for a national unity government in Palestine was a positive development but we needed to see the detail of the terms on which it had been agreed to see whether they met the principles set down by the international community. For that we would have to wait as this sort of thing took a little time. Asked how the Prime Minister assessed the trip, the PMOS said that the outcome, as the Prime Minister had said himself, would be best judged in the coming weeks and months ahead. The answer to the question of whether we had seen some momentum in the right direction was yes. We were cautious and we did not want to get ahead of ourselves.

It was important for people to see how it worked out in practice in the coming days and weeks. Asked whether progress in the Middle East was now the Prime Minister’s key challenge, the PMOS said that it was certainly a key challenge. The Prime Minister had said that explicitly yesterday. That was why the Prime Minister had undertaken the trip. It had not come out of thin air. It was something that had been discussed right at the heart of the conflict. If people looked back through the Prime Minister’s Los Angeles speech there was a clear strategic analysis of why he believed progress in the Middle East was important and vital now. Therefore this was why the Prime Minister had said that he would go back and that it would remain a key priority.

Asked if the Prime Minister would refer to the incident in Damascus today, the PMOS said he did not think so. Even though the situation in Damascus was over the issues around it remained obscure.

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

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