» Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Asked if the Prime Minister felt there should be a second round of elections in Afghanistan in light of the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) findings of evidence of fraud, the PMS said that, as the Ambassador in Afghanistan had said this morning, these findings were of no surprise; we always knew there would be potential difficulties with these elections, but the most important thing was that we had two bodies, both the ECC and the Independent Election Commission (IEC), in which we had full confidence, who would do what needed to be done in terms of recounting and other elements of the election process. It was important to bear in mind that the figures seen so far were a preliminary indication rather than a final set of results.

Asked if the Prime Minister was worried that a second round of elections would bring a repeat of the violence and fraud seen during the first round, the PMS said that we needed to take this step by step; it was important to wait and see what would happen in the next stage. People were obviously anxious to see the results but we had to let this part of the process run its course.

Put that it would be a good idea for the UK Government to push for a coalition government in Afghanistan, the PMS said that we were at a stage in the process where we knew some of the preliminary votes and what the provisional results were of some polling stations, but it was not appropriate to go further than that at this stage. It was important that people remained calm and saw this process through; with a combination of the ECC, the IEC and international partners we were urging the Afghan election authorities to continue this rigorous approach to tackling electoral fraud.

Asked how concerned the Prime Minister was that the British public did not understand why our troops were in Afghanistan, the PMS said that the Prime Minister laid out the purpose of the mission in Afghanistan during his speech last week; we needed to attack the bedrock of terrorism that brought a threat to the streets of the UK. The Prime Minister and the Government regretted every loss of life in Afghanistan and the Prime Minister had been glad to meet serving troops on his recent visit to Afghanistan where he saw the progress being made on the ground and the new equipment coming in. Part of Operation Pantha s Claw had been to ensure that the elections were as free and fair as possible.

Asked if the Prime Minister was winning or losing the battle to convince the British public that the war in Afghanistan was worthwhile, the PMS said that the Prime Minister set out in his speech last week both what the Government strategy was, what the challenges were and what the possibilities were going forward. The Prime Minister had always been clear that there would be difficult phases in the war in Afghanistan, but this was an international effort between forty-one countries and the suggested conference would underpin the fact that this was an internationally driven campaign.

Asked if there had been any progress in persuading NATO allies to send more troops to Afghanistan and if there were any meetings in the near future to discuss such issues, the PMS said there were a number of things happening at the moment, the most important being the McChrystal report. It was important to wait for the report and the outcome of the elections.

Asked if the Prime Minister was trying to persuade the Canadians, the Dutch and the Japanese to change their plans to pull out within the next two years, the PMS said that the Prime Minister was very keen that burden sharing remained a key driver of the campaign.

Asked whether the issue of burden sharing had been discussed when the Prime Minister visited Chancellor Merkel at the weekend, the PMS said that he had given a read out of the meeting at Monday s press briefing and there was nothing further to add to that.

original source.

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

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