» Friday, November 6, 2009


Asked whether the Prime Minister believed that there was a danger of failure in Afghanistan, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) told the assembled press that the Prime Minister’s key message today was that we would succeed. This was an international effort and the Prime Minister was absolutely certain that we had embarked on the right strategy; we were focussed clearly on the next stage of the campaign. The five tests that the Prime Minister had set President Karzai had been accepted and were the way forward, together with the process of Afghanisation.

On Afghanistan and Pakistan the PMS said that we could not succeed in one country without succeeding in the other and that we were completely committed to this. He said that this was a campaign involving 43 countries and the Prime Minister had been performing a leadership role in this area.

When asked about whether the Prime Minister discussed the tests set out today with President Obama and what exactly the loss of international support’ would mean, the PMS said that we had discussed these tests with our allies and would continue to do so. He said that the Prime Minister had emphasised the importance of rooting out corruption; the importance of economic development and the importance of an inclusive government. The Prime Minister had been very clear about these and had articulated that to President Karzai.

On the question of whether troops would be withdrawn if the tests were not met, the PMS said the Prime Minister had no intention of withdrawing troops from Afghanistan until we had completed our campaign. The international support was there on the basis that we wanted President Karzai to do the right thing; he had accepted these tests and we looked forward now to him delivering against them. We were planning for success and would make sure that we helped President Karzai achieve that.

When asked at what stage the Prime Minister would decide whether these tests were being met, the PMS said the key point was to remain in touch with President Karzai as he began the important and challenging task of forming his government. The Prime Minister was very keen to work in support of the leadership of Afghanistan; delivery would be ensured as we went forward but we were taking it step by step. President Karzai would be held to account and the Prime Minister had been in the vanguard of talking to him about what was expected as he formed his government.

The Prime Minister had no thoughts of failure this was about ensuring that we continued the efforts in Afghanistan and we – and our international partners – would support President Karzai to achieve what needed to be done.

Asked about one of the conditions for the additional 500 troops to Afghanistan being a supportive Afghan government, the PMS said that the Afghan government would have to be able to show that it could work with us and our allies before we made a final decision on troop numbers. Decisions on troop deployments would be made in consultation with our military chiefs. The Prime Minister was clear that the safety of our troops was paramount and we would ensure that our troops were properly resourced and protected.

When asked what the basis for believing that there would be success in defeating corruption, the PMS said that we had expectations of the Afghan government and would support it to ensure delivery. The Prime Minister had proposed a new anti-corruption law and a new anti-corruption commission with powers of investigation and prosecution and an international advisor on corruption. These would be important steps forward. Cronies and warlords should have no place in the future of Afghanistan.

When asked about who might take up the post of international advisor, the PMS said it was premature to speculate and there would be a number of potential candidates for this very important international role.

When asked whether an international advisor would undermine President Karzai the PMS said there were other international advisors who were already involved in making a contribution to supporting Afghanistan. Anything the Prime Minister could do to help President Karzai form a unity programme would surely be welcomed.

When asked about whether President Obama was dithering on the decision to send more troops, the PMS said the Prime Minister was of the view that the President was right to consult, that he would make the right decision and we would move forward as a group of international allies. He said the Prime Minister last spoke directly to President Obama by video conference in October on this matter.

When asked whether the Prime Minister accepted that the fall in support for the war in Afghanistan meant that he needed to make the case in a much louder and better way, the PMS said that that was what the Prime Minister was doing once again today in setting out our strategy in Afghanistan.

When asked when the Prime Minister last spoke to President Karzai, the PMS replied that it was yesterday and that he would be in regular touch with him.

original source.

Briefing took place at 10:00 | Search for related news

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