» Friday, June 8, 2007


As introduction the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) said we saw the G8 process work in terms of moving us significantly further forward on climate change. The G8 process had worked on Africa as well, because what had happened in the run-up to the summit, we had seen the US increase their aid by $30 billion on AIDS, we had seen Germany commit $3 billion dollars over four years, and we had seen the Italians doubling their aid to Africa. The importance of this was that Gleneagles had set out not just the headlines, but also the ambitions on Africa. This meeting was about putting in the details in terms of programmes, in terms of subjects, in terms of countries on AIDS, on education, on malaria, on drugs prices and showing that there was a long-term commitment on resolving the problems of Africa.

Perhaps, the clear signal of this firstly was the fact the Japanese had put Africa on the agenda already for G8 next year. Secondly, we would now have annual progress reports on promises. The subject would be there next year, there would be a chance again for people to see if the G8 was living up to the commitments they had made at Gleneagles on aid, and secondly, there would be peer pressure because of the progress report on promises. This was a progress working.

The Prime Minister had also said it was about partnership, that was why the African’s being here today was so important. It was also however, about getting progress on trade, that was why it was important that the Prime Minister had spoken to the President of Brazil, because we were at a critical point on trade. This summit had also held that momentum on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) process, obviously there was a lot more work to be done on that and as the Prime Minister had said there is a lot more work that has to be done on Africa, but the momentum was in the right direction. Asked whether the PMOS could give any more detail of where we were and what we trying to get on WTO, the PMOS said no not now, but G8 did provide a good opportunity for the Prime Minister to talk to some of the leading players and to get a sense of where they were going. We believed that a deal could be done, but there was still work to be done. The important point was there was no sign of people backing away from trying to do a deal, but we actually now needed to do it. As the Prime Minister had said, the gap if you actually look at it, was not that big, but it does need to be closed and the important thing was to renew the conviction that a deal could be done, if we got a move on.

Asked whether we would say that in the communiqué, the PMOS said that this was his view, but important thing was that we push through to do it. Asked whether any of the $60 billion figure was new money or was it re-hashed old promises, the Prime Minister Adviser’s on Climate Change said the agreement that we got at Gleneagles was an extra $50 billion a year by 2012 on top of what, the aid was at Gleneagles, which was $70 billion. So by 2010 the world would spend $129 billion on aid a year. What we had since then was some progress towards that aid had gone up to nearly $103 billion, although the figures were confusing when taking debt relief into account. The Prime Minister’s Adviser asked journalists to imagine the money as a cake which was $129 billion and we now need to divide the cake up in terms of what we allocated to universal access to AIDS treatment, what we allocated to free basic education, and so it now about is how we divide up the promise that was made. He continued to say that not everyone had increased their aid budget enough yet, so for them it was new money, for those of us who were on track it was about spending money that had been already committed. You should see it as dividing up the cake that was promised at Gleneagles, but it was all new money in the sense that it was not going towards AIDS at the moment, but it was not new money in the sense that it was beyond the $50 billion.

Asked whether there was any progress on Darfur, as the Prime Minister was threatening to go to the UN Security Council to get pressure, the PMOS said he thought the summit had reaffirmed on Darfur as there was a growing momentum to put pressure on President Bashir. The US was very, very firm on Darfur, the Prime Minister was very, very firm on Darfur. Sudan had to get the message. This pressure was only going to build, it wasn’t going to go away, and we knew this was the only way in which the Sudanese Government works and does what it was supposed to do. Asked whether there was a united G8 position on Darfur, the PMOS said yes there was.

Asked whether the Prime Minister’s discussion with President Putin had been ‘frank’, the PMOS said as the Prime Minister had said yesterday, this was not about grandstanding, but it was about being honest and it was therefore about saying to Russia, "what you were doing in terms of your actions on a variety of issues was counter-productive". People would decide the basis on which to do business or not to do business, politically, economically, diplomatically, with Russia on the basis of how Russia behaves. Now this is a choice for Russia to make, so this wasn’t going to be a stand up row, it was going to be a conversation about the choices Russia faces and therefore, the tone in which Prime Minister hopes to conduct the conversation. Asked further about Russia, the PMOS suggested we should leave the rhetoric out of it, the hard reality was that businesses wanted to do business in Russia and that was the right thing to do, but businesses would only do business in Russia if they believed that their dealings would be transparent, if they believed their commitments would be honoured. This was a just a simple statement of fact.

Put that the French were suggesting Kosovo should be given more time to negotiate, had the G8 come to a position yet, the PMOS said he was not aware that the G8 had come to a position yet. However, there were discussions continuing and we had to wait for the outcome of those discussions. Asked whether the Prime Minister regretted not having such a robust attitude towards President Putin before, the PMOS said we wanted a constructive relationship with Russia. It was worth therefore making the effort to have a constructive relationship, but part of the constructive relationship was that it was transparent, that you operate on certain shared values, and this will be what determines the discussion. The PMO continued, do we need to talk to Russia about issues such as Kosovo? Yes. Do we need to talk to Russia about energy supplies? Yes. So therefore Russia remains, and will continue to remain a very important player in the world. It was therefore right and proper that we try to have good relations with Russia, but the boundary of those relations will be determined by how Russia responds.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Search for related news

1 Comment »

  1. It amounts to no more than an additional \xA33bn.The usual Blair spin and garbage, even in a context like this.


    Comment by Steve in London — 9 Jun 2007 on 10:14 am | Link

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