The Prime Minister had a video conference call with President Obama, President Hollande, Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Renzi this afternoon. Discussions lasted about 75 minutes and focused on Ebola, ISIL and the situation in eastern Ukraine.
The bulk of the call focused on the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa. Leaders agreed that this was the most serious international public health emergency in recent years and that the international community needed to do much more and faster to halt the rise of the disease in the region. Each leader set out what they are doing to help the countries affected and then discussions focused on how to improve co-ordination of the international effort and to work together to address the most urgent priorities: increasing the amount of international spending on the issue; increasing the number of trained personnel working in the region to treat those affected and prevent the disease spreading; and evacuation procedures for workers affected.
The Prime Minister said we would welcome countries partnering with us in Sierra Leone so that we can provide more treatment beds and we will now explore this further with the Italians. The Prime Minister also proposed that we seize the opportunity of meeting in Milan on Friday and at the European Council next week to discuss what more Europe can do to help tackle the disease. All agreed that we should share more information on what we’re doing in order to identify any gaps where more work is needed and to ensure we maximise, rather than duplicate, our efforts. The Foreign Secretary also hosted a COBR meeting on Ebola this afternoon to discuss what more we can do to strengthen the response of the international community to the crisis in West Africa.
On the international effort to defeat ISIL, President Obama debriefed on the meeting of Chiefs of Defence in the United States yesterday and leaders agreed that the international coalition was making progress. There was a clear consensus on the need to do more to support an inclusive political approach in Iraq, and to train up local forces in Iraq and Syria who can tackle ISIL on the ground, supported by the international coalition’s airpower. The Prime Minister said that we are looking at what more we can do to train up local forces in both Iraq and Syria. Leaders also agreed on the importance of encouraging the Iraqi government’s efforts to engage Sunni communities in Iraq, in order to isolate ISIL politically.
Finally, they discussed Russia’s actions in eastern Ukraine ahead of the meeting in Milan on Friday between European leaders, President Putin and President Poroshenko. They agreed that Russia needs to do more to implement the Minsk Agreement, notably fully respecting the ceasefire and stopping the flow of weapons across the border. This should be accompanied by a comprehensive OSCE monitoring mission on the Russia/Ukraine border; free and fair regional and local elections throughout Ukraine, conducted in accordance with the laws of Ukraine; and an agreement between Russia and Ukraine on energy supplies.
Leaders also agreed that the international community must continue to help the Ukrainian government tackle the huge economic challenges they face, including through supporting painful but necessary reforms.