Asked whether the Prime Minister had spoken to President Obama about troop deployment since their meeting in Canada, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) told the assembled press that the Prime Minister had not spoken to the President since then.
Asked why a statement was being given to Parliament, the PMS advised people to wait for the statement this afternoon. The PMS added that there was a large amount of public interest in Afghanistan and the Secretary of State for Defence therefore wanted to come to the Commons and explain what was going on.
On whether the Prime Minister was concerned that troops pulling out of Sangin could look like a retreat rather than a reorganisation, the PMS advised people to wait for the statement at 1230. Clearly there was already a restructuring of forces underway in Helmand.
When asked if the Prime Minister or any member of the Government had raised any objections to the idea of British forces moving to Kandahar province, the PMS replied that on all these issues, the Government would be guided by military advice. Asked if the Prime Minister had discussed the specific Kandahar issue, the PMS said he would not get into the process. There was a clear strategy and a restructuring of forces was underway.
Asked if the subject of further participation from various partners was discussed at G20, the PMS replied that there had been discussions on Afghanistan at the G8 and people would have seen the communique that was published after that summit.
On whether the Prime Minister was sending a representative to the memorial in Hyde Park, the PMS replied that a wreath had been laid this morning on behalf of the Government with a message from the Prime Minister.
Asked what the message had said, the PMS read the message out:
“In memory of the victims of terrorism in London on the 7th July 2005. They will never be forgotten.