Briefing by the Prime Minister's Spokesman on: Pakistan, Peter Ricketts, BP and banks.
Asked if the Prime Minister was concerned that the UK’s High Commissioner in Pakistan was called in for a meeting with the Foreign Minister, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) told the assembled press that she could confirm that the meeting had taken place and they discussed a broad range of issues including preparations for President Zadari’s visit.
In terms of the general situation, the Prime Minister stood by the comments he made. Pakistan was already taking action against extremism as the Prime Minister had acknowledged and the meeting on Friday with President Zadari would be a good opportunity to discuss further what action should be taken. We had strong links with Pakistan on many levels, particularly on counter-terrorism and aid and we wanted to continue working closely with them in the future.
Asked about further action being taken by Pakistan and whether the Prime Minister would be asking about further action or the President would be volunteering, the PMS they would be discussing it. The PMS said she wouldn’t try and predict what they would be discussing in detail but it would be on the agenda along with other issues.
When asked what explanation Pakistan had given for the cancellation of the advance delegation visit to the UK, the PMS replied that we did not discuss intelligence matters.
On how the Prime Minister would reassure President Zadari that the UK was not siding with India, the PMS said that we had very good, strong relations with Pakistan and we were looking to continue to build on those.
Asked what the Prime Minister thought of people burning effigies of him in Pakistan, the PMS replied that people had a right to protest, but we had strong relations with Pakistan.
When asked if she would accept that the High Commissioner was summoned to the meeting with the Foreign Minister, the PMS replied that the meeting had taken place and advised people to speak to the Foreign Office on any more detail.
Asked if the Prime Minister stood by his comments that Pakistani authorities were looking both ways, the PMS said that the Prime Minister had been referring to elements within Pakistan supporting terrorism and not the Pakistani Government. Put that the Prime Minister had used the word ‘authorities’, the PMS said that the Prime Minister stood by his remarks.
Put that the Prime Minister would not be offering an apology to President Zadari, the PMS replied that they would be discussing a broad range of issues, including the challenges that Pakistan faced and the work they were doing in combating terrorism.
Asked if the Prime Minister had had any contact with the Pakistan authorities over the flooding at the weekend, the PMS said that DfID was working with the UN and the Pakistani authorities and we stood ready to support them. The PMS said that there had been a condolence message from the Prime Minister via the High Commission.
Asked if the President’s visit was a State visit, the PMS said that it was a foreign leader’s visit. The PMS advised people to speak to the Pakistani High Commission on details of the visit.
Asked if the Prime Minister was expecting a report from President Zadari on changes that would be made, the PMS replied that Pakistan faced very big challenges. The Prime Minister was looking forward to the discussions on Friday.
When asked what was the employment status of Sir Peter Ricketts and Sir Richard Dannatt, the PMS replied that Sir Peter Ricketts was the National Security Adviser and added that he had no intention of leaving early and would be working until next year. The PMS said that Sir Richard Dannatt was a political appointment and she would not comment on that.
On whether Peter Ricketts was appointed on an interim basis, the PMS said that he was not leaving his post early. The PMS said that Peter Ricketts took the post with the understanding that he would be doing it for a limited period and he was committed to the role of National Security Adviser.
Asked whether the Prime Minister shared the concerns of Greenpeace over BP’s deep water drilling off the coast of Shetland, the PMS said that they key thing was to ensure our oil industry was working to high standards and that there should be no repeat of events as seen in the Gulf of Mexico.
Asked if the Prime Minister was concerned about bankers’ bonuses in light of the large profits being announced by some banks, the PMS replied that action was being taken regarding bonuses, such as the levy that had been introduced. We were also looking at the Financial Activity Tax with international partners and we were also consulting on a remuneration disclosure regime in the financial services sector.