» Monday, March 8, 2010


Asked if the Prime Minister’s trip to Afghanistan had been planned before or after Downing Street became aware of his appearance at the Iraq inquiry, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) said that it was important to bear in mind how many times the Prime Minister had visited Afghanistan; he had been to Afghanistan eight times and once as Chancellor. It was always planned that he would go in March, as he was keen to thank the troops for their work in Operation Moshtarak.

Asked if Special Advisors were involved in the organisation of the Prime Minister’s trip to Afghanistan, the PMS said no; this was an official government trip. Special Advisors were part of the travelling group, as was usual.

Asked about Sir John Major’s comments regarding the Prime Minister’s “unbecoming” behaviour during his trip to Afghanistan, the PMS said that the Prime Minister was committed to the effort in Afghanistan and took every opportunity to ensure that he personally thanked troops.

Put that the death rate in Afghanistan was one death every two days and asked if this rate was expected to continue over the spring and summer, the PMS said that any death in Afghanistan was a matter of great regret and the Prime Minister’s thoughts were always with the families of those who were killed or injured. The tactics used by the Taliban had changed over the last eighteen months and every effort was made to ensure that the threat of IEDs was dealt with. An IED factory was discovered as part of Operation Moshtarak, which was part of a clear strategy we were committed on pursuing.

Put that the Prime Minister’s Snatch announcement had already been made by the Ministry of Defence for double the amount, the PMS said that the figures referred to related to the original military procurement tender. Bill Rammell had spoken about this yesterday and there was nothing more to add.

Asked if we were winning the war in Afghanistan, the PMS said that it was important to never be complacent in a military situation, but that Operation Moshtarak had gone as smoothly as possible. This operation was incredibly important as it was about clearing and maintaining stability in a key part of Afghanistan. We had always said that there was a medium to long term aim, which was to make sure that Afghanisation was fully embedded, and we were seeing real progress being made in the latest phase of this.

Asked if the Prime Minister was concerned about the increase in the number of deaths in Afghanistan, the PMS said that the Prime Minister was always concerned about any fatality or injury in any conflict we were involved in, but we needed to remember that this was an international effort with forty-two countries engaged, and we needed to remain focussed on what we were trying to achieve, ultimately to make sure the streets of the UK were safer.

original source.

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