» Thursday, March 27, 2008

President Sarkozy State Visit

Asked why the Queen had said yesterday that the Prime Minister appeared to have got lost, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) replied that it was best to ask the Palace that question; the Prime Minister did what he was told on these occasions. The key point regarding the summit was that, as the Prime Minister had said this morning, today was the day for getting down to business and that was what he would be doing with President Sarkozy. They would have detailed discussions and would be issuing a communique, which would cover issues such as the economy, reform of the international institutions, environment and energy issues, immigration and development. There would be a series of bilateral meetings between the key Ministers on both sides, including from the UK side, Alistair Darling, Jacqui Smith, Jack Straw, Des Browne, David Miliband, John Hutton and others. Today we were focusing very much on the business of the summit. It was a very detailed agenda and there would be a detailed and substantive communique that would be published, as well as a press conference given by the Prime Minister and President Sarkozy explaining what they had agreed.

Asked if the Prime Minister had in fact got lost yesterday, the PMS repeated that the Prime Minister did what he was told on these state occasions and it was not something which was bothering him too much this morning; he was focusing on the serious business of the summit.
Asked if Afghanistan would be discussed at the summit, the PMS replied that that had been an omission on his part and went on to say that there would also be a substantive discussion on Afghanistan and burden sharing at the NATO Summit next week.

Asked if the Prime Minister was looking for any commitments from France regarding troop levels, the PMS replied that they had been discussing burden sharing; there would be a more substantive discussion on burden sharing at the NATO Summit next week where this issue would be discussed with all of the members of NATO.

Asked for more information on the talks about the economy, the PMS replied that the Prime Minister and President Sarkozy would be discussing the current instability in the financial markets. It was agreed that there was a need for greater transparency to ensure that banks made full and proper disclosure of the scale of write-offs and of finding ways to give greater certainty on the evaluation of complex financial assets. This was something that had been discussed previously; it had come up at the meeting of European leaders in London in January and there would be further discussions at the G7 Finance Ministers meeting and at the IMF and World Bank meetings in Washington in a couple of weeks time.

Put that relations between France and Britain had been strained at times since the end of the Second World War and asked if the Prime Minister thought that the two countries were now entering a Golden Age of the relationship, the PMS replied that the Prime Minister certainly felt that the relationship between France and Britain was a very important relationship and one that was on a good footing at the moment. We shared a lot of common interests with France; we had a common agenda around issues such as the reform of the international institutions, the approach we were taking to the global economy, the situation in Africa, the situation on development issues and increasingly, the position we were taking within the European Union. That was why the Prime Minister agreed very much with President Sarkozy’s characterisation of the French and British relationship yesterday.

Asked if the Prime Minister planned to learn French, the PMS replied that the Prime Minister had a lot on his plate at the moment.

original source.

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

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