» Thursday, November 22, 2007


The Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) began by briefing the Lobby on the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and Pakistan. This morning there had been a Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) meeting to discuss Pakistan, the Foreign Secretary had given a response to this, and there would be a further meeting this afternoon where they would make further decisions on Pakistan. Once that second meeting had happened, a recommendation would then be put forward. The Prime Minister’s statement on this set out his approach, the fact that he spoke to President Musarraf last night, and that the key to this issue was working with President Musarraf in order to encourage him to fulfil his commitments to reverse the extraordinary measures that had been put in place, and to meet the recommendations that were put forward by CMAG in their statement on the 12th November. And in doing that to maintain the shared values of the Commonwealth.

There was potential bite in this Heads of Government meeting because of the fact that it was taking place in advance of Bali and in advance of further talks on world trade. Some of the key players, India, Canada, South Africa, Australia would be together at an important time, so we hoped that this meeting will see movement forward on those issues.

The Prime Minister has set out his five main aims for this CHOGM meeting:

  • The first being on pro-growth development and looking for an early WTO deal, his particular focus would be on trade with President Mbeki and Prime Minister Singh attending the meeting
  • The second would be on education and increasing access to education throughout the developing world
  • The third was conflict resolution, and the PMS referred journalists to the Prime Minister’s recent foreign policy speech. He was pushing forward the idea that a UN Security Council resolution looking for peace, also contained within it measures to build in stabilisation and reconciliation
  • Fourthly tackling extremism, the Commonwealth was a forum for looking to mobilise free society
  • And fifthly looking for action to promote low carbon growth and tackling climate change.

Asked if the Prime Minister supported Rwanda’s application to join the Commonwealth, the PMS replied that these were decisions that would be taken by the Commonwealth as a whole. But we were supportive of some of these proposals.

Asked how we squared the Prime Minister’s fifth aim with building a new runway at Heathrow, the PMS replied that on climate change it was not just one country’s activities, but many decisions that needed to be taken on an international basis. In the consultation that Ruth Kelly had put forward today we were clear that as part of our international efforts to cut aviation carbon footprint, we were leading negotiations to include aviation in the European emissions trading scheme.

original source.

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

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