Asked if the PM had raised any specific human rights cases with Premier Wen, the PMS said we had set out areas of concern, but said that he wouldn’t be getting into the specifics. Asked the question again, the PMS confirmed that specific cases had been raised.
Asked for further details of the discussions between the PM and Premier Wen at both the plenary session and lunch, the PMS said the majority of the time was spent discussing trade and we would be publishing a press release setting out the details of the agreements that were signed.
Asked whether the political situation in Syria was discussed considering China’s boycott of UN Council talks over the issue, the PMS said there had been a discussion about various foreign policy issues but he didn’t think there had been a long discussion on Syria.
Asked if the PM though it was appropriate for Premier Wen to criticise the UK’s economic handling and whether we believed this was in response to the UK raising human rights issues, the PMS said he hadn’t seen the precise comments being referred to but we should be doing better economically. He added that we were seeking to rebalance the economy, deal with the deficit and increase exports, including to emerging markets such as China.
Asked if the DPM had been present at the plenary session or lunch, the PMS said no, the DPM had held separate meetings last night with Premier Wen and his delegation.
Asked how the talks with union leaders were going, the PMS said he was unable to provide a readout as the meeting was ongoing.
Asked whether the Government was coming to the table with any concessions, the PMS said these were talks about the issues. He added that at some point there would be detailed negotiations about pensions.
Asked if today’s talks were time limited, the PMS said the talks weren’t of that nature and another meeting was scheduled for July.
Asked to respond to comments made by an unidentified union leader who was reported to have said that it would be dangerous to allow parents to fill gaps in school if teachers go on strike, the PMS said Michael Gove had sent a letter to schools encouraging them to put in place arrangements to ensure they remained open if possible, but it was down to individual schools to make a judgement call on how best to do that. He added that the letter had suggested schools drew on the wider group of people involved in schools, which included parents.
Asked whether the PM would make an official statement in response to the news that the ICC had issued an arrest warrant for Gaddafi, the PMS said that we welcomed the announcement and the Foreign Secretary had made a statement.
Asked who would carry out the arrest and whether the warrant showed a change in attitude to the conflict in Libya, the PMS said this sent a clear message that individuals in the regime would be held accountable for their actions. He added that any action taken in Libya would be in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions 1973.
Asked why Moussa Koussa was being held accountable for his actions in a 5* hotel in Doha, the PMS said it wasn’t for the UK to give a running commentary on what Moussa Koussa was doing. He added we wanted him to play his part in opposing the Libyan regime. He added that we had also been clear that he would not be given any immunity from prosecution in the UK and that he had been interviewed by Dumfries and Galloway police.
Asked if Moussa Koussa would be asked to return for questioning, the PMS said that this was a matter for the police.
Asked if the PM thought the situation was consistent with the ICC issuing an arrest warrant for Gaddafi, the PMS said the ICC’s announcement did not relate to Moussa Koussa.
Asked about the mechanism for the arrest and what role Britain would play, the PMS said people should speak to the FCO for further details. He added that the main point here was that the international community was sending a clear signal to people in the Gaddafi regime that they would be held accountable for their actions.
MoD efficiency savings
Asked whether the PM was concerned about the budget cuts and management re-structuring having a detrimental impact on morale, the PMS said that we had been faced with a defence budget with a £38bn black hole and we were sorting that out. He added that Liam Fox would be in the House later that evening and would set out the changes we would be making to the management of that department to avoid the problems we had seen in the past.