» Thursday, November 13, 2008


Asked about the Prime Minister s meeting with President Karzai, the Prime Minister s Spokesman (PMS) said that President Karzai began by praising the contribution that UK troops were making in Afghanistan, and offered his condolences on the news yesterday of the deaths of two Royal Marines.

The Prime Minister and President Karzai discussed the ongoing UK support in Helmand, with a focus on development activity, reconstruction and outreach. They also discussed regional issues, with a focus on the regional security dimension relating to Pakistan. Reconciliation and the Afghan programme of outreach to tribal leaders were also discussed.

Put that deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan had reached the 300 mark and asked if the Prime Minister had a reaction, the PMS said that the deaths of two Royal Marines were a tragedy and that our thoughts and prayers were with the families and colleagues of those two Marines. It was important to remember, particularly this week when we had been remembering the contribution made across generations by our armed forces, the ongoing commitment of our soldiers, sailors and airmen in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the contribution they made to our security.

Asked if President Karzai had briefed the Prime Minister on any contact with former members of the Taliban who had now renounced their former beliefs, the PMS said that that came under the category of reconciliation, which was an Afghan led programme. If former members of the Taliban were truly committed to renouncing violence and to playing a constructive part in Afghanistan s future, then there was a place for them.

Asked if the Prime Minister was concerned about the apparent lack of support for the UK mission in Afghanistan, especially now that it looked likely more UK troops would be sent there, the PMS said firstly that he did not agree with the journalist s comment that it looked likely more troops would be sent to Afghanistan. Secondly, in regards to support for troops, the PMS said that he assumed the journalist had been referring to the poll that the BBC published this morning. There had been numerous polls, including those conducted by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), which showed a different take on public support for our operation in Afghanistan. For example, the MoD had commissioned a MORI poll, which showed that over 50% of the UK public supported the UK armed forces presence in Afghanistan. A Chatham House survey also showed a different response to the poll the BBC had published. The important point was that we were clear on the reasons why our armed forces were in Afghanistan; they were there to protect the democratically elected government of Afghanistan, and to help extend its authority across the whole of the country. They were also there because Afghanistan was vital to our own national security.

Asked when the MORI and Chatham House surveys had been published, the PMS said that he didn t have a date for the Chatham House survey and it was best to talk to MoD about the MORI survey.

original source.

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

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