» Thursday, July 22, 2004


Asked if the Prime Minister had spoken to Kofi Annan today, the PMOS said that they were due to speak this evening. The Prime Minister had been talking to people about the situation in Darfur on a daily basis. As he had told journalists in his press conference this morning, the UK was taking a serious interest in what was going on there in the light of Hilary Benn’s visit to the region in June and the fact that the UK was the biggest cash donor. The US was also heavily involved inasmuch as they were the biggest donors of food-aid. We were continuing to talk to our European partners about how the EU as a whole could help the situation, particularly in terms of assisting the African Union in the deployment of a ceasefire monitoring mechanism. As the Prime Minister had told journalists this morning, there was no doubt that this was a serious situation. However, it was important to take things stage by stage. We were doing all that we could. We wanted the rest of the world to follow our example.

Questioned as to whether we would provide logistical support to the African Union to assist in its ceasefire monitoring efforts, the PMOS said that we would liaise with the AU about what the monitors were discovering and what further help they might need. Asked if the UK would be providing troops on the ground, the PMOS said that as the Prime Minister had made clear this morning, we were not yet at that stage. He had also cautioned journalists against getting too far ahead of themselves. It was important for people to take things one step at a time. The next stage was the Prime Minister’s conversation with Kofi Annan, discussions with our European partners and offering our assistance to the AU as it tackled the root causes of the problems in Sudan in terms of the ongoing rebel and Arab militia activity. Asked if the rebels or the Arab militia had the upper-hand, the PMOS said that it was for the ceasefire monitors, who were already in place, to decide who was primarily responsible.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Search for related news

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