» Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Anti Terror Law

Asked what the Government was trying to get across in the documents released in conjunction with the Home Secretary's Statement the Prime Minister's Spokesman (PMS) said that they were intended to set out the situation so that people had as much of the information surrounding the debate as possible. These were important issues and as such it was important that as much information as possible was available to inform the public debate.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Brussels Brief

The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman briefed journalists from Brussels via a phone link-up. He said that the Prime Minister had met President Bush this morning. He said that we had been very encouraged by what the President had said yesterday about the Middle East Peace Process, both as an indication of the seriousness of his intent in terms of trying to push forward the process, but also in terms of how he characterised that attempt, and what we thought was necessary. The other issue that had been discussed had been Iraq. The PMOS said he would go through what he thought would be included in the two sessions later today.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Iraqi Government

Asked about the scale of help which would be given to the Iraqi Government, and what it would mean to the removal of British troops from Iraq, and when that might happen, the PMOS said that the scale of help would be a matter for individual governments to decide what their contribution would be. Things were already happening but the important thing was to coordinate that effort through NATO. Some of that help would be training inside the country, and some would come in the form of contributions from countries as trust funds, which had been set up to help the process of training. In terms of troop withdrawal, our strategy since April had been Iraqiisation.Building up the capacity of Iraqi forces, to allow them to take on responsibility. That would therefore determine the timelines of how quickly we handed the responsibility to them, and how quickly we could take a lesser role. Obviously, we would have to coordinate that process with the new Iraqi Government. The PMOS said it would therefore be premature to speculate any further until those discussions had taken place.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

EU/US Conference

Asked for more information on where and when the EU/US conference may take place, and why was it decided to go "this route" rather than take an existing format, such as NATO or the UN, the PMOS replied that the details would depend on the views of the new Iraqi Government. What was important to recognise was that there was already a lot of activity going on, but there was a need to find a mechanism, which coordinated that activity in the best way possible. The consensus was that this was the best way to do it.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)


Put to him that President Bush had renewed his threat to Iran yesterday regarding their nuclear ambitions, and whether the Prime Minister could see any circumstances where we would join forces, the PMOS replied that as President Bush had said in his speech yesterday "Iran was not Iraq". Therefore we were in the early stages of diplomacy, and that was what was important. President Bush backed the diplomatic channel, and believed that what was crucial in trying to get a diplomatic solution was that there should be no opening for anyone to divide Europe and the US. We should maximise a collective pressure on Iran. That was what we were doing, and the Prime Minister was a very firm believer in that strategy. What was needed at this stage was that we backed the IAEA in setting the criteria, and making sure they were lived up to and implemented.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)


Asked if France and Germany were planning ahead in the form of training, or were they contributing towards a trust fund, and also why the Prime Minister appeared to be keeping a low profile today, the PMOS said the first question was really a matter for France and Germany. His understanding was they would be helping in training, and that Germany had already started in the UAE. In response to the second part of the question, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister used this morning to make his comments about the Middle East, and to underline what he thought was the importance and true significance about what President Bush had said in his speech yesterday, especially about the Middle East. The Prime Minister believed this was an important time for the Middle East, not least because of the run up to the Palestine Conference in London next week. The PMOS also pointed out to journalists that the main focus of attention today was President Bush and his exchanges with NATO and the EU.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Palestine Conference

Asked what would be the significance of President Bush's remarks on the Palestine Conference next week; did they lend some "much needed gravitas", and also what was the Prime Minister's response on Darfur, as there had been comments that the issue had been drowned out by the tsunami disaster, the PMOS said that the US confirmed at an early stage that Condoleezza Rice would be attending the Palestinian Conference. Therefore, that guaranteed the significance of the meeting in terms of the US's view of it. Once the cast list had been viewed, especially with regards to the Palestinian contingent, people would understand that this was a significant conference. The true significance of the conference, however, was not what would be said in advance of it, but rather the practical outputs that would come from it to help the Palestinian authorities to develop as an authority, and as a partner for negotiations.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

President Bush/Prime Minister

Put to him that President Bush was "full of very warm words" for the Prime Minister, why had the Prime Minister not said anything in return, or was that just a "difference in style", the PMOS said that anyone who doubted the Prime Minister's view of President Bush and the leadership he had shown had not been listening to what the Prime Minister had been saying, not only over the past few months, but repeatedly over the years. Anyone who had any questions about their partnership just had to look at how well they worked together.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Northern Ireland

Asked if Paul Murphy's statement to the House of Commons later today would be a definite and substantive response to the IMC report to the Northern Bank robbery, and also if there was a need for a Government motion to withdraw allowances from the Sinn Fein MPs, the PMOS said the short answer was that Paul Murphy's statement would be substantive. Regarding the second part of the question what was important was that as the IMC said, sanctions of whatever kind were not going to resolve or solve the issue. Rather, they were expressions of disapproval, and underlining the determination of a government that was echoed by various governments and political parties in both North and South Ireland that the IRA had to make a choice. That choice was either: politics or continuing criminality. It could not ride both horses any longer.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Ken Livingstone Apology

Asked what the Prime Minister's reaction was towards Ken Livingstone's refusal to apologise about his recent comments to a journalist, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister had given his personal view last week that he believed it was a matter for Ken Livingstone himself to decide how to respond. Mr Livingstone had done that.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (7)

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