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No. 10 Afternoon Press Briefing From 16 Nov 2007

Briefing from the British Prime Minister's Spokesman on: Gun and Gang Crime, Opium growth in Afghanistan, Pre-Briefs/Speeches and David Miliband Speech and Pre-charge Detention.

Afternoon press briefing from 16 November 2007

Gun and Gang Crime

Asked for details on who would be at the regional meeting re gun and gang crime, the Prime Minister's Spokesman (PMS) said that it would be attended by police, local agencies and people in the local community.

Opium growth in Afghanistan

Asked if it was the Government's policy to destroy crops, the PMS said it was part of the Government's strategy in Afghanistan to deal with the opium issue. In terms of forward planning, the Prime Minister had said that he would be making a statement to the House of Commons on Afghanistan issues generally, and that would happen within the next couple of weeks.

Asked about the idea of paying farmers money, the PMS said it was best to wait until the Prime Minister had given his statement to the House of Commons for any announcements on that subject.

Put that the Americans had been pushing the British to do more to destroy crops and asked what the Prime Minister's view was, the PMS said that the Prime Minister's view was that we had to work closely with communities in terms of dealing with this problem. It was best to go to the Foreign Office for the definitive position.

Asked if the Prime Minister was opposed to aerial spraying, the PMS said that you had to consider all of the options, but it was important that we worked alongside local communities to find a solution to the problem involved in opium growing in Afghanistan.

Asked if there was agreement with Lord Malloch-Brown that the only people who agreed with aerial spraying were the Americans, the PMS said that he had not seen that particular comment from Lord Malloch-Brown.

Asked if the Prime Minister would consider the case for licensing the opium trade, the PMS said, as he had said before, the Prime Minister would report to the House of Commons on the Government's future strategy in Afghanistan in the next few weeks.

Pre-Briefs/Speeches and David Miliband Speech

Asked if pre-briefs to the press regarding a speech should reflect the content of the speech, the PMS said yes.

Asked if there was concern regarding discrepancies between pre-briefs on a speech and the content of the final speech, the PMS said that that was not something for him to comment on and furthermore it was something he would not want to comment on.

Asked if the Prime Minister spoke to the Foreign Secretary before he made his speech, the PMS said that the Prime Minister spoke to the Foreign Secretary on an almost daily basis.

Asked if the Prime Minister spoke to the Foreign Secretary about the speech he gave yesterday, the PMS repeated what he had said yesterday, which was that if the Foreign Secretary was giving a major speech on foreign policy then of course that would be discussed with the Prime Minister just as the Prime Minister spoke, at great length and on many occasions, to the Foreign Secretary ahead of his speech on foreign policy on Monday (12 November).

Asked if the Prime Minister had specifically asked David Miliband to remove passages from his speech, the PMS said that the content of the Foreign Secretary's speech was a matter for the Foreign Secretary.

Put that the PMS had just said it was a matter for both of them, the PMS said that in terms of the substance of the policy measures which were announced, obviously that was something which was discussed between the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary but how exactly the Foreign Secretary chose to express that was a matter for him.

Pre-charge Detention

Asked if there were any discussions going on at the Home Office today regarding putting proposals forward on pre-charge detention, the PMS said that he was sure there discussions going on at the Home Office about all sorts of issues every day.


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