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Situation in Algeria and meeting with Leon Panetta

Update on the situation in Algeria and a read out of the Prime Minister's meeting with US Secretary of State for Defence, Leon Panetta.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A No10 spokesperson said:

“The Prime Minister chaired a further meeting of COBRA at 16.00 today. He received an update on the latest position on the ground and the ongoing efforts to support all those affected by the In Amenas incident. He has just spoken to the Algerian Prime Minister who updated him on the latest situation and they agreed to keep in touch while the operation by the Algerian authorities continues.

“The Government is not in a position to comment on the number of UK nationals involved.

 ”Earlier the PM met the US Secretary of State for Defence, Leon Panetta, at Downing Street. The PM told Mr Panetta that he greatly appreciated the strong working relationship that Britain has enjoyed with Mr Panetta during his time in office at the Pentagon and CIA.

“They discussed the ongoing hostage situation in Algeria and agreed that the incident reinforced the need to work together and with Governments in the region to defeat terrorism and especially AQIM operating in the Sahel. They agreed on the importance of strong support for international efforts, led by the French, to assist the Malian Government and deny terrorists a safe haven in Mali.

“On Afghanistan, they welcomed the increasing capability of Afghan security forces and discussed plans for ISAF countries to withdraw combat troops during 2013 and 2014.

“They also discussed our shared objective to end the bloodshed in Syria and to support those Syrians who aspire to a freer, more democratic future. On Iran, they agreed that it was vital the international community remained focused on increased sanctions pressure and on pursuing the negotiating track, in order to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.”

Published 18 January 2013