» Monday, March 26, 2007

Iranian Hostages

Asked why we could not release the coordinates of where our personnel were, and so clearing any discrepancy between us and Iran, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) replied that throughout all of this we had been making a very genuine effort to have discussions with the Iranians in private, so not to escalate the tension. And anything that we did would have to be in accordance with that principle. People should not mistake discretion for lack of certainty. As we had said this morning, we were utterly certain that our personnel were in Iraqi water, but there were ways of handling this which should be observed in the interest of those personnel.

Briefing took place at 15:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (2)

Northern Ireland

Asked for some background to the Northern Ireland developments today, the PMOS replied that the Prime Minister was in a meeting on Scotland whilst the meeting and subsequent press conference went on, and he talked to the Taoiseach shortly afterwards. This agreement had come after a very intensive period. Going back to late autumn last year there had been the St Andrews Agreement, which then rolled into a very busy period over Christmas where the Prime Minister, with the exception of Christmas Day and New Year's Day, spent a part of every day on the phone about this issue, including whilst he was on holiday. There had been intensive discussions with the parties since then and this weekend was again a very intensive period. But the important thing was that in the end, this was a deal reached between the parties. The DUP said that they wanted more time, we said we were prepared to consider more time but only if they could reach a consensus with Sinn Fein, and the important point is that that consensus was reached between the two parties. It was not something imposed by us, it was not something that we had to in the end deliver - it was the two parties that delivered it. That was the difference and that was why this was really important.

Briefing took place at 15:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Lancet Report

Asked that when Downing Street questioned the methodology used to produce the survey in the Lancet last October about the number people who had died in Iraq, were we aware of the advice by the Chief Scientific Advisor to the MoD who described the analysis as "appropriate" and the methods as "close to best practice", the PMOS replied that this issue surfaced two or three weeks ago, and from memory he had believed there were still question marks over that methodology.

Briefing took place at 15:00 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)

Northern Ireland

When asked if there was to be any statement on Northern Ireland, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) told journalists that as events were unfolding in Belfast as he spoke, it would be better to see where things went. This was probably a moment that everyone would remember. The PMOS said that the whole point of the peace process had been to get to the stage where Northern Ireland politicians met and decided the future of Northern Ireland. If we had reached that point, the significance of it could not be understated.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)


Asked for any update from Tehran and the kidnapped personnel, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister spoke very carefully yesterday, (and the PMOS hoped that people understood why the Prime Minister was being very careful when he intervened, and stressed that he had to be very careful about what he said). The main thing about what the Prime Minister said that had to be underlined was that we were utterly confident that the personnel who had been detained were in Iraqi waters. We also would underline the call for their immediate release and noted with gratitude that that had been backed by the international community, including the EU. The PMOS said that he hoped people would understand why we would be restrained in what we said.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Police Inquiry


Briefing took place at 9:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

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