» Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Iraq Study Group

Asked if the Prime Minister had seen the leaked report of the Iraq Study Group, the PMOS said journalists should wait for the real thing, they had only a few hours to wait.

Asked whether the Prime Minister agreed with the comments made by Robert Gates yesterday, the PMOS said what the Prime Minister agreed was what he had said repeatedly, that it was difficult in Iraq. Journalists only had to look at the David Frost interview where he had said something similar. They also only had to look at the Prime Minister’s Los Angeles speech, where he talked in general about fighting extremism, and said that there we were not wining in the short term. What was important was that we recognised there were different parts and aspects in Iraq. Secondly, what Robert Gates had not said was that we could not win. What he had set out was how we need to meet the challenge that we face in Iraq, and that was what the Prime Minister had been saying for quite some time.

Asked whether there would be any reaction from the Prime Minister once the study was published, the PMOS said the first reaction would be tomorrow at the press conference with President Bush. Asked if the Prime Minister’s overall view was we were not wining the war on extremism, the PMOS said it was still his view that overall in the fight against extremism we had to mobilise both in terms of politics and security. That is why he set out in the Los Angeles speech the broader Middle East strategy, which he believes we should pursue.

On fighting terrorism in areas such as Afghanistan and Iraq he said we could not say we have won. What he did say was that he believed it was possible to win, and that was the important, it was possible to win if you pursued the right military strategy, security strategy and political strategy. That was the same whether it was true in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Asked whether the Prime Minister agreed that winning could take decades, the PMOS said the Prime Minister had said in his Los Angles speech that he believed that this was a generation struggle against terrorism. Of course you adjust to certain circumstances on the ground, certain circumstances would be the increasing capability of the Iraqi forces to take control of their own destiny. Ultimately the future of Iraq will be decided by the Iraqi’s themselves.

Briefing took place at 6:00 | Search for related news

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