Asked to clarify whether the Prime Minister had said he would not attend if Robert Mugabe was attending, or whether he would not attend if any representative of Robert Mugabe’s regime/government was present, the PMS replied that the Prime Minister was saying that the assumption was that Robert Mugabe would be attending and on that basis he would not attend.
Asked if it would be different if Robert Mugabe sent a deputy or a Minister for Culture, or any other representative, the PMS said that clearly that would be a different circumstance. The issue in relation to President Mugabe was that the Government did not want to divert attention from the important issues that the EU-Africa Summit needed to address.
Asked if it was only Robert Mugabe personally who would be seen as a diversion, the PMS said yes.
Asked if it was the Prime Minister’s plan to attend the summit, when in similar summits it was only the Presidency and the Commission who were expected to attend, the PMS said that the Prime Minister would have been expected to attend.
Asked if the Prime Minister had had consultations with other leaders in the European Union (EU) or African Union (AU) before taking the step on Zimbabwe, the PMS said there had been discussions with other members of the EU.
Asked if any other EU countries such as Germany would follow suit, the PMS said it was a question for them.
Asked why the thinking had changed on public interventions in Zimbabwe by the UK, the PMS said that what the Prime Minister was setting out in his article in the Independent was all of the positive action that the Government was taking, to deal with the situation in Zimbabwe; the Prime Minister called for an EU envoy to deal with humanitarian issues on Zimbabwe; the Prime Minister said that the UK will raise the issue of Zimbabwe at the UN Security Council meeting next week, with a proposal for a UN envoy on Zimbabwe; he raised the possibility of extending the sanctions that related to senior members of the Zanu PF regime; he stressed that he was very supportive of the efforts of President Mbeki through the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and AU process and that the Government were announcing today £8 million of extra of humanitarian support. The Government set out a whole series of positive steps today in order to deal with the situation in Zimbabwe and to deal with the humanitarian crisis in the country.
Put that there was an acceptance that the quiet diplomacy track had not had the desired effect and that it was time to be more public about it, the PMS said that the Prime Minister did not want there to be any lingering uncertainty about the issue of his attendance at the EU-Africa Summit, but he also wanted to set out all the positive steps that the Government were taking.
Asked if the current ban on Mugabe would prevent him from attending, the PMS said that in order for Mugabe to attend the EU would have to temporarily grant exemption to the visa ban. Asked if it had been the assumption that that could happen, the PMS said that it appeared to be the assumption; the Prime Minister was clear that the assumption was President Mugabe was attending and on that basis he would not attend.
Asked if there was any response from the AU as presumably it was up to them to choose their delegation, the PMS said that the Government had not had any response that he was aware of that morning. The PMS went on to say that the Government wanted the EU-Africa Summit to be a success and work with the AU to deal with the issues in Zimbabwe and elsewhere in Africa.
Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news
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