» Thursday, July 13, 2006


The PMOS told the lobby that the Russian agenda for the Summit covered global energy security, education, the fight against infectious diseases and a range of international issues. The Russians, at our request,had also created time to review and progress since Gleneagles on Africa. We could also expect global trade to feature in the discussions. The PMOS said that this showed that the agenda which we drew up and made so much progress on at Gleneagles on Africa, and climate change, was continuing to be the agenda at the G8. It was evolving and developing, but the core script which was developed at Gleneagles was being followed through. We were maintaining the Gleneagles momentum on Africa and climate change; there was a new focus on energy, and that helped achievebothour security and climate change objectives security, and that was based on practical measures. There was also the continuing need to make progress on trade, and we recognised fully that we had not made sufficient progress on trade.

The PMOS said that in terms of reaching out beyond the G8, nobody believed that the G8, acting by itself, could solve the world’s problems. That was why at the summit, we would have meetings with the G5, as at Gleneagles, as well as discussions on Africa.

With regards to Africa and climate change, it was about checking progress and it was also about renewing our commitments in Africa, and maintaining momentum through Germany and Japan’s G8 summits. We wanted the G8 to be on track for delivering Gleneagles package for Africa, including the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and the doubling of aid by 2010. The PMOS said that on climate change, Gleneagles helped ensure the surprising breakthrough at Montreal, but we also wanted to build up to the Mexico meeting. The practicalities were that we focused on issues that were at the heart of our Energy Review, for example, energy efficiency measures, and gas  flaring where oil producers burn off the excess gases produced when oil was made. We also welcomed the fact that the Japanese had said that climate change would be a key part of their G8 Presidency, because again, what it did was show there was a continuity of approach.

We expected this G8 to focus on the importance of open, liberal energy markets, transparency between energy suppliers and energy users, as well as agreeing some practical measures on energy efficiency and addressing challenge of climate change.

The PMOS said that on education, as a nation, we had done much on this by providing £8.5 billion over the next ten years. We believed it was crucial to help development.

On infectious diseases, we believed that the momentum in Gleneagles would be continued.

With regards to trade, as the PMOS had said before, the Prime Minister remained very engaged on this and was determined to do everything possible in order to get a positive result.  He had spoken to President Bush and Chancellor Merkel, and he had written to Prime Minister Singh, who would be at the summit, despite the recent bombs, and Presidents Lula and Mbeki, as well as talking to them personally in recent months. We hoped that the timing of St. Petersburg would help try and break out the impasse, which is where we were at the moment.

Put to him that President Chirac’s name was not mentioned in the trade talks list, and was the gap between the two so great, the PMOS said that we were aware of the EU position, and the EU was very well aware of our position. We had discussed this at EU meetings, including with the French and President Barroso, and as people were aware of our position, we had to move things forward.

Asked how were the trade talks structured, as Russia was not a member of the WTO, the PMOS replied that the good thing about the G8 was that they were relatively informal, so there was plenty of opportunity for people to discuss these matters. It was also on the agenda for the G8, but particularly in the session with the Plus 5.

Asked that if there were deals to be done, did we expect them to be done informally, the PMOS said that this was about getting a momentum going in the right direction.

Asked if the Prime Minister would give a presentation on Africa, the PMOS replied that he was going to lead the discussion on Africa.

Asked about any bilaterals, and when would the Prime Minister meet President Putin, the PMOS replied that there would be a number of bilaterals, but the PMOS didn’t want to brief on them at this stage as they were still being set up.

Asked about relations between Presidents Bush and Putin, the PMOS said that when they met they had very frank and open discussions on a frequent basis.

Asked to comment on President Putin’s response to the UK Ambassador’s meeting NGOs, the PMOS replied that as the Prime Minister had said this week, we had made our position clear on certain issues. What that did not stop us doing, however, was engaging with Russia, both in terms of the world issues that we both needed to engage with, but also, in developing a business and economic relationship which was in the interests of both countries and the wider world. Russia was a big player on the world’s stage, therefore, it made sense to engage Russia in every way.

Asked did that not seem as if we were interfering in their internal affairs, the PMOS replied that the Ambassador had set out very clearly that that was not what he was doing.

Asked what would the Prime Minister say at the summit in reference to Russia’s human rights and democracy records, the PMOS said that he did not want to get ahead of the discussions. However, the discussions did have the opportunity for everyone to express their view, and President Putin had put on the agenda a discussion on Russia. The PMOS said that he was not in any way going to pre-empt that discussion. The Prime Minister had said no later than this week that we had expressed a view. The relationship with Russia was also about the world agenda as well as other things too.

Asked if that view could be expressed now, the PMOS said that he knew the journalist was in the 24-hour news business, but the PMOS said he preferred to deal with the reality of the day, rather than pre-empting.

Asked what the Government’s position was on human rights and democracy, the PMOS replied that we had concerns and we had voiced them. We had also voiced our concerns about certain aspects of the media. However, at the same time, that did not stop us having a relationship in which we could engage with Russia on the major world issues that we both had to do.

Asked if Mrs. Blair was going on the Russia "jaunt", and also, what was the most difficult aspect going to be, the PMOS replied that he did not recognise the description of the trip as a "jaunt". Anyone who had been to the G8 would know that it was not a holiday, but rather, hard and worthwhile work! With regards to Mrs. Blair, the PMOS confirmed that she did go, as it was traditional that spouses or partners went.

Asked if trade was likely to be used as a political weapon, the PMOS replied that trade was about the WTO. It was also about trying to get new and vital momentum into a situation which was unfortunately at an impasse. In terms of energy liberalisation, and energy markets, they would be part of the discussion.

Asked about the nuclear power issue, and that Russia had a completely different view to energy security, and what was the Government’s view, the PMOS said that it was not surprising that a supplier wanted to maximise the supply. It equally should not be surprising that a country like the UK looked at it from our own perspective and national interest. The important thing was that we had an open and transparent market in which people could make their decisions in their own national interests. The PMOS said he did not think anyone would argue with that. Russia would act in its own national interest, and we would do the same.

Asked how big a part would nuclear power play in the discussions, the PMOS reminded people that part of the reason for nuclear being part of the energy mix was also for climate change reasons. If we continued with the trend as it was at the moment, as we relied more and more on gas imports, not only did that have implications in terms of energy security, but it also meant that our carbon emissions would go up.

Asked about gas flares, the PMOS explained that gas flares were when the oil producers burnt off the excess gases when oil was produced. If we could reduce gas flares worldwide, then it would not only help preserve fossil fuels, but it was also another measure to reduce global emissions by a significant amount.

Asked whether the Prime Minister would make specific proposals on expanding the G8, the PMOS said that it was a reality now that the G8 did not make sense unless it was inclusive of the G5, and unless it reached out to groups such as the African leaders. What the institutional format implications of that were was a matter that the Prime Minister was going to go to the summit with a set idea.

Asked for further information about infectious diseases, the PMOS said that we were following through on the Gleneagles commitment to universal access to AIDS treatment, and supporting the language at the recent UN meeting on AIDS.


Briefing took place at 15:00 | Search for related news

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