G8 Report by PM – Monday 11 June 2007

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Monday, 11 June 2007

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Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department

G8 Summit

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3:31 pm

Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair (Prime Minister) | Hansard source

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a statement on the G8 summit, which took place between 6 and
8 June in Heiligendamm in Germany.

1 pay tribute to Chancellor Merkel’s outstanding chairmanship. The purpose of the summit was to take forward the agenda first established at the Gleneagles G8 summit of 2005, on climate change and Africa.

On climate change, the scale of the challenge, environmentally and politically, has been becoming clearer month by month. There is now a scientific consensus that the planet is warming dangerously. If we do not halt and then reverse the rise in greenhouse gas emissions, we face a potential catastrophe. Sir Nicholas Stern’s report has shown that early action will save money; late action will cost it. Therefore, for the environment, this is urgent.

Politically, the problem has been clear but daunting. The United States was not part of the Kyoto treaty. The major emitters in the years to come will include China and India and developing nations. They want to grow their economies. They fear that action on climate change will limit their growth and hence keep their people—hundreds of millions of them—poor. Added to all that, Kyoto barely stabilises emissions—it is now obvious that we need substantially to cut them—and it expires in 2012.

At Gleneagles, we set up the G8 plus 5 dialogue—the first time that the US and China have sat round the same table debating how to put a new deal together. There is still a long way to go, but for the first time an outline agreement can now be seen that meets the environmental test of cutting substantially the harmful emissions and the political test of bringing developed and developing nations, notably America and China, together.

We agreed at the G8, for the first time, that a new global climate change agreement should succeed the current Kyoto treaty. We agreed, for the first time, that at the heart of that agreement should be a substantial cut in global emissions. The summit sent an important signal that the global target should be of the order of a cut of at least 50 per cent. in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050—the target set by the European Union, Japan and Canada.

We agreed at the G8, for the first time, that the process for such a new agreement should be set out. We agreed that the UN is the only body able to finalisea global deal on climate change and that a comprehensive agreement should be reached in 2009. We called on all countries to see the UN climate change meeting in December as the first step towards achieving a comprehensive climate change agreement.

The most important change was in relation to the position of the United States of America. Again, for the first time, President Bush signalled that he wanted the US to be part of the new global agreement, and would lead the attempt to get consensus among all the main countries, including China and India, so that that consensus could shape the final global deal. That is crucial. There will be no effective climate change accord without the US, and the US will not agree without China being part of it. Now we have an agreement in principle, a goal and a process to achieve it. Much remains to be done, but on any basis that is a substantial step forward.

We agreed that tackling climate change and addressing energy security were complementary goals. We highlighted the importance of tackling energy efficiency, dealing with emissions caused by deforestation and helping developing countries, which are likely to be worst hit by climate change, to adapt to its impacts. We agreed on a renewed effort to develop and deploy new low-carbon technologies, and we have sent a strong message that emissions-trading schemes, both within and between countries, will play a key role in giving incentives to business to invest in those technologies.

Heiligendamm was never going to be about finalising a deal. It was about sending a clear signal on the shape of the post-2012 climate change framework, and that is exactly what it did. The United Kingdom, for its part, will work hard in the G8, in the United Nations and elsewhere to deliver the objective that is of such fundamental importance to the future of the world.

Two years ago the Gleneagles G8 agreed to a global increase in aid and debt relief of $50 billion by 2010, with $25 billion of that extra for Africa. It also agreed to universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment by 2010, the tackling of other killer diseases, a commitment to funding primary education, support for an African peacekeeping force, and a big debt write-off. Britain is already meeting its commitment to increase aid for Africa: I am proud to say that we have trebled it. Before the summit Germany announced an extra €3 billion over four years, and America announced an extra$15 billion for treating HIV/AIDS over five years. Overall aid has risen. We should not ignore what has already been done, or the almost $40 billion of additional debt relief for Africa since 2005, but we will need to do substantially more to ensure that the Gleneagles provisions are observed.

The G8 did, however, reiterate its commitment to delivering universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment by 2010. Since Gleneagles, around 1 million people in Africa have been receiving the antiretroviral drugs that they need. Now the G8 has agreed to fund a total of5 million. That is more than the G8 share of the commitment as predictions stand, but we can do more in years to come to meet the 2010 goal if the need arises, and we are committed to providing $60 billion over the next few years in Africa to help to achieve that. We are also committed to meeting the estimated $6 billion to $8 billion shortfall in funding for the global fund to fight HIV/AIDS, and—reflecting United Kingdom policy—to providing the long-term predictable funding that is necessary to achieve the fund’s overall goals.

The G8 committed itself to taking specific steps to tackle the alarming feminisation of the AIDS epidemic. In sub-Sarahan Africa some 60 per cent. of adults living with HIV/AIDS are women, and three out of four young people living with HIV are women and girls. The G8 committed itself to scaling up its efforts to deliver universal access of services to prevent transmission of HIV/AIDS from mothers to their children, to paediatric services and to maternal and child health services, at a total cost of nearly $5 billion.

The G8 also committed itself to working to fill the immediate $500 million financing gap for the education fast-track initiative. Again in line with broader United Kingdom policy, the G8 committed itself to helping to provide long-term predictable funding to ensure that every child gets to school, and reiterated its commitment to ensuring that no country that was seriously committed to education for all would be thwarted in the achievement of its goal by a lack of resources. That will help the meeting of the millennium development goal of universal primary education by 2015.

In addition, the G8 committed itself to identifying, agreeing and supporting lasting solutions to the financing of peacekeeping missions in Africa. That is essential if key missions such as the African Union mission in Darfur are not to limp on hand to mouth for month after month. We agreed a strong statement on the crisis in Darfur. The truth is that President Bashir of Sudan has consistently refused to admit a hybrid United Nations-African union force, and has consistently only moved under the threat of pressure from outside. Unless he now agrees to the G8 and UN demands, we are committed to a new and tougher package of sanctions, through the Security Council, to force him to do so.

Our last session was dominated by discussion of the world trade talks. The gap has now narrowed. There is the real possibility of agreeing an outline deal by the end of June. The outstanding elements amount to only a few percentage points either way. We are therefore closer to the headline numbers than ever before, but we have to move from wanting to do the deal to doing it. The meeting that will take place at G4 between 19 and
23 June will be absolutely crucial. Britain will continue to do all we can—and we have done much over the past months—to bridge the remaining gap.

The benefits of a world trade agreement for the wealthy nations as well as the developing nations are enormous. It would be good for business and jobs, good for the multilateral system, and good for the world’s poorest. I urge the United States, the European Union and the G20 developing countries to get that deal done. It will be great to succeed. It will be a profound shame to fail.

As usual at G8 summits, I also had bilateral meetings with a number of leaders, in particular a long and frank meeting with President Putin, covering the range of issues currently under discussion—the Litvinenko case, Kosovo, ballistic missile defence and energy policy. I set out our view that people were becoming worried and fearful about the implications of present Russian policy. The President set out with equal frankness his views. It was right to have such an exchange. The issues were aired with complete openness on both sides. I said to him that we wanted a good relationship with Russia. He affirmed his desire to see Russia-UK relations strong, but the truth is that the issues between our two countries remain unresolved.

Therefore, this summit made a real breakthrough on climate change, more progress on Africa and showed again the value to Britain of its transatlantic and European alliances. I commend the outcome to the House.

Blair Supporter: The Prime Minister has been congratulated, rightly, by all sides of the House for his work at the G8 on climate change and Africa. And notwithstanding Bob Geldof’s comments on the other G8 members, most people can see that he’s done a great job. John Curtin, Director of G8 Research at Toronto University, says that this G8 along with the Gleneagles meeting was “one of the most highly performing” of all 32. Blair’s Gleneagles meeting was “tough to beat and was where Tony Blair showed he really was a great genius of G8 diplomacy and much of what we’re seeing here is very much because of his pathway and active leadership.” (viz persuading Bush).

The common denominator? Blair’s leadership on the big issues. Curtin said, “somewhat surprisingly this has turned out to be a highly successful, indeed historic G8 gathering. Not just principles and promises but a new process, pioneered by Tony Blair.”

I wonder how much positive coverage OUR great British press will give the PM? You can hear Curtin’s comments on Radio 4’s PM programme, of Friday 8th June.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/mainframe.shtml?http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/radio4.shtml

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Photo of David Cameron David Cameron (Witney, Conservative) | Hansard source

I would like to start by thanking the Prime Minister for his statement. I wish to raise four main areas. The first is climate change. The agreement reached at the G8 is welcome and we should congratulate the Prime Minister on his part in achieving it. Clearly, the US Administration are now taking a different approach to climate change, but can he tell us the extent to which he believes that the change in language will be backed by changes in action? After the Prime Minister’s first summit in 1997, he told the House that the United States could be on the verge of agreeing to legally binding targets. We still need that to happen.

Will the Prime Minister clear up the potential confusion about baselines for the targets? Does he agree that the cuts must be measured from a 1990 baseline? As he said, the involvement of India and China is vital. He said that the goal must now be a full successor to the Kyoto treaty, with binding targets, involving the US, India and China. What prospect does he see for real progress to be made at December’s UN climate change conference in Indonesia?

The destruction of the world’s forests is responsible for one fifth of carbon emissions, which is even more than those generated by transport. Does the Prime Minister agree that the language in the communiqué about deforestation is very disappointing? When it comes to climate change, clearly, international action is essential, but domestic leadership remains vital. Does he share my concern that carbon emissions in the United Kingdom have risen in the past decade?

The second major issue is tackling poverty in Africa. On debt relief, progress has been made since Gleneagles and we welcome that, but on aid there is some confusion and I would be grateful if the Prime Minister could try to clear up some of the figures. There is concern that the announced additional aid is not all new money. Will he confirm that the $60 billion headline figure amounts to $12 billion to be spent annually on AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and reinforcing health systems, and that up to $9 billion of that has been pledged annually already, or is part of existing packages? Therefore, according to those Oxfam estimates, the total annual increase in spending amounts to just $3 billion a year. What can he say to those who, after the enthusiasm of Live Aid, now feel quite disappointed?

A further concern is that countries do not stick to their promises. On HIV/AIDS in particular, at Gleneagles, the G8 pledged to make access to prevention and antiretroviral treatment available to all by 2010. We argued here for interim targets to make that possible. I listened carefully to what the Prime Minister said, but is it not the case that the G8 has effectively watered down its own commitment, that it is now promising to provide treatment for 5 million people, but that that falls well short of what is required?

A key part of ensuring that countries keep their promises is to examine the quality of aid, as well as the quantity. Is it not now time for an independent international body to measure and compare the impact and effectiveness of aid, and to drive up standards so that the G8 member states achieve value for money in the aid they spend?

The Prime Minister and I agree that the best way to encourage development in the longer term is to promote free and fair trade. That is what the Doha round was meant to be about. President Bush‘s special authority to agree a deal on trade ends on
30 June, so we are close to the 59th minute of the eleventh hour. What steps will the Prime Minister take in the coming three critical weeks, and especially in the run-up to the Potsdam trade meeting in a week’s time, to help get Doha back on track?

The third issue is Darfur, the world’s most pressing humanitarian crisis. As the Prime Minister said, the G8 statement on Darfur covers important issues, such as an international force and the need for aid to get through to the refugee camps. The words are good, but will things actually change on the ground? Is it not abundantly clear to anyone who has visited that region that the real problem is the Khartoum Government, and their utter unwillingness to co-operate with the international community in putting an end to the killing? Does the Prime Minister agree that only strong and united action will overcome that resistance by the Sudanese Government?

The fourth issue is security. We welcome the measures on nuclear security and counter-terrorism, and the strong language about Iran. On Russia, when someone is murdered on British soil, the police and other relevant authorities should be able to pursue the perpetrators without fear or favour wherever their investigations lead. Will the Prime Minister tell us a little more about the progress that he made in his talks on that issue with President Putin?

The Prime Minister has indicated that after he leaves office he plans to remain engaged in the issues discussed at the G8, and especially climate change and development. We wait to see in what capacity; I even read in the papers that he might swap the Dispatch Box for a pulpit and the House of Commons for a church. Whatever he does, the Prime Minister can take credit for pushing the issues of climate change and poverty up the agenda of the group of most powerful nations in the world. The Opposition will always ask the appropriate questions about the delivery of the promises that have been made, but raising the profile of those issues is a genuine achievement for which many have cause to be grateful.

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Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair (Prime Minister) | Hansard source

First of all, let me— [Interruption.] First of all, let me—

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Photo of David Davis David Davis (Haltemprice & Howden, Conservative) | Hansard source

He is embarrassed.

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Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair (Prime Minister) | Hansard source

No, you lose any sense of embarrassment after a time in this job. First, let me thank
the right hon. Member for Witney (Mr. Cameron) for his generous words at the end of his speech—if not for his career suggestions.

There are important issues in relation to climate change. In 1997, the United States appeared to be ready to sign up to the Kyoto treaty, but before we put all the blame for that not happening on the change of Administration, it is worth pointing out that the US Senate voted by—I think—98 votes to none against the treaty, so there has long been an issue to do with how far the US is prepared to go in signing up to a global deal. It is particularly important to remember that there is no point in having a new agreement on climate change unless the US is involved, and unless China and India share the common goal—albeit perhaps with differentiated obligations.

That is why I do not consider the fact that the US will lead some of the meetings at G8 plus 5 or G8 plus 7 to be adverse. On the contrary, that is a good thing because the more the Americans are prepared to take a clear lead on this issue, the better. They will, of course, be anxious to ensure that China and India are part of the deal and that everyone has obligations, and the reality is that the Europeans would also arrive at that position.

The fact that we have the prospect of a new deal with a substantial cut in emissions at its heart is a huge step forward. Of course, the December meeting will be vital but, as I have said time and again, there is no point in getting a hundred countries around the table making an agreement if their emissions amount to only 20 per cent. of the total. The G8 plus 5 represents more than 70 per cent. of the emissions. China will overtake the US as the major emitter within the next few years, and India’s emissions are already rising substantially. Those countries will be worried and concerned to make sure that we do not impose on them obligations that limit their growth, but that is why the other part of this—I did not deal with this in detail in my statement—is technology transfer. As we develop the new technologies, we will have to share them with the developing world.

What the right hon. Gentleman says on deforestation is right, but there will be the possibility of making more concrete the actions proposed at the December meeting in Indonesia. On CO2 emissions, yes, it is true that we, like other countries, have got to do far more, but that is the purpose of the Climate Change Bill and other matters.

On Africa, there is a confusion here that it is important to pin down. At Gleneagles, there was a commitment to an extra $50 billion a year, $25 billion of which should go to Africa, and that was for aid and debt relief. What is then important is not that there is new money on top of the $25 billion, but that we say how the $25 billion is going to be met. Therefore, although it is true when people say, “Well, only several billion dollars of the HIV/AIDS money is new”, the important thing is that it is a major fulfilment of what was set out in general at the Gleneagles summit. So on HIV/AIDS, the more specific that we are on education and on treating other killer diseases, the more that this $25 billion stops being a general figure and becomes one that people can add up and thereby see what has happened.

The situation becomes very complicated for another two reasons. First, it is unclear the degree to which debt relief counts as aid; that is a separate argument in itself. Secondly, on HIV/AIDS treatment, World Health Organisation predictions are in the course of being revised. The G8 summit at Heiligendamm committed to providing help for 5 million people, which is a very substantial uplift on anywhere that we have been before. It is true that we may have to go further between now and 2010, when the commitment is set, but I think it somewhat unreasonable to say that there has not been substantial progress. I know that the right hon. Gentleman is not saying that, but it is important for those campaigning outside to realise that for the first time, we are putting real numbers on HIV/AIDS treatment. Five million people getting antiretroviral drugs is a massive change from where we are at the moment. If we need to do more, we should be prepared to do more, and that is why this is described as an important step and not the total fulfilment of our commitments.

On the international body, this is a debate that will go on. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development has outlined his approach to this issue, which is through a committee, but I agree that one way or another, it is important that we holdto account the international community for the commitments that it has given. But one important thing was agreed right at the end of summit. The Japanese, who will hold the summit next year, agreed that Africa should again be a central part of the agenda. That is an important thing, and I believe that the world will meet the commitments that it set out, but along the way there will be much debate.

It has to be said that, over the next few years, America will effectively have multiplied by a factor of five the amount of aid that it has given to Africa since President Bush came to power—something that is not always pointed out. But we still need some of the other European countries to do more, and part of our discussion inside the European Union and elsewhere will be to make sure that countries that have been falling back on their aid commitments in recent years step up to them.

On the world trade talks, the right hon. Gentleman is absolute right—the meeting next week will be crucial, but the gap has narrowed. The assessment given by Pascal Lamy, the head of the World Trade Organisation, was noticeably more upbeat, but there is still very hard negotiating to do before we are there. I agree with what the right hon. Gentleman says on Darfur and the necessity for action there. On the talks with Russia, no, I cannot say that we have made great progress on the Litvinenko case. We shall continue, obviously, to do all that we can to press the Russians on this issue.

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Photo of Andrew MacKinlay Andrew MacKinlay (Thurrock, Labour) | Hansard source

In his bilateral discussions with President Putin, was the Prime Minister not impressed by the case advanced regarding the Russians’ objections to the Ahtisaari plan—that they have adhered diligently to the Helsinki Final Act of 30 years ago, which said that the boundaries of European states would not be varied, and that they see a concession on Kosovo’s independence as being a green light to Transnistria and to other frozen conflicts in Georgia and Armenia being dealt with similarly? Have they not got a case that should not be scornfully set aside, and should we not listen to them, because there is prudent counsel even in the Kremlin?

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Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair (Prime Minister) | Hansard source

What my hon. Friend says is the Russian case, but we have said throughout, and I believe this to be true, that Kosovo is sui generis for the reasons that have been given many times over the past few years. The difficulty comes if we do not take this issue to its conclusion, which is the reason why we asked Mr. Ahtisaari to look at it, and if we do not then act on his conclusions, we will be in stalemate. I do not think that that would be good either for the people in Kosovo or for the region. I certainly do not dismiss and never have dismissed the Russian case scornfully, but none the less, we have moved on from where we were a few years ago. For most of us, it is difficult to see the way in which we achieve a solution, other than on the terms set out by Mr. Ahtisaari.

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Photo of Menzies Campbell Menzies Campbell (Fife North East, Liberal Democrat) | Hansard source

I, too, welcome the Prime Minister’s statement, and I am sure that he speaks for the whole House in what he says about Darfur and the world trade talks.

In spite of the Prime Minister’s optimism, though, is not he disappointed as he leaves office that, although there is a commitment to talks, there is as yet no binding commitment to action on carbon emissions? Is not what is urgently needed an agreed framework for reduction, based on the principle of contraction and convergence? What is the Prime Minister’s honest assessment of the chances of achieving that? In view of Oxfam’s statement that Africa will feel the effects of global warming first and worst, does not it underline the need for agreed targets for reduction if the G8’s agenda for Africa is to have any chance of being fully implemented? The truth is that the G8 statement on aid is in effect a promise to keep the promises that were made at Gleneagles. How can we be satisfied that that promise will be kept rather than the others?

Finally, although there is no mention of this in the Prime Minister’s statement, the G8 statement says that all participants reaffirm their commitment to combat corruption by implementing their obligations tothe Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Is the Prime Minister satisfied that Her Majesty’s Government are fulfilling those obligations?

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Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair (Prime Minister) | Hansard source

Yes, I am.

One always has to be careful about taking the attitude that everything has not been achieved, therefore nothing has been achieved. In relation to the first two points, the fact is that we have come a long way on a climate change deal. There never was a prospect of concluding a treaty or an agreement at this G8, but for the first time we have the agreement from the United States that it wants to be part of a deal; an agreement to a substantial cut in emissions; an agreement for China and India to participate in the talks leading to that; an agreement that it should be through the UN; and an agreement that it should happen in 2009. It is some progress, I think.

In respect of Africa, what is important is that our promises at Gleneagles were for fulfilment in 2010. I agree that unless we ramp up the pressure, there is a danger that we will not meet all those commitments. On the other hand, and again for the first time, there have been substantial increases in the promises made. One of the things that has happened with the summit, which is one of the values of having such issues decided at the G8 and very different from the G8s of years gone by, is that the occasion of the summit is the occasion for countries to come forward and start to make commitments. In other words, I think that but for the G8, we would have been very unlikely to get major and substantial increases in commitments on HIV/AIDS, or the German aid package and so on. Although it is right to say that there is a long way still to go on climate change and Africa, we have made considerable progress.

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Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North, Labour) | Hansard source

In the meetings that the Prime Minister had with President Putin, was the issue of national missile defence tracking stations being built in eastern Europe and in this country raised? Does he not think that there is a danger that the signal we are sending to Russia on that issue is one of encouragement of a new arms race? Would it not be better to have a moratorium on such constructions in order to encourage mutual disarmament?

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Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair (Prime Minister) | Hansard source

Well, I did obviously have a discussion with President Putin about that. His view is that it is a provocation while ours is that it is something in which we have been engaged for a number of years and that it is not aimed at Russia—indeed, the very siting, in Poland and the Czech Republic, is an indication of that. As I understand it, the talks between President Putin and President Bush were reasonably constructive and it will be important that we continue to work with Russia on the issue. It is not a new issue that has suddenly arisen; we have been debating it for several years, which is why I do not really think that it came as a surprise to Russia, so it is important that we see it in the context of other issues.

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Photo of Sir Peter Tapsell Sir Peter Tapsell (Louth & Horncastle, Conservative) | Hansard source

Did the Prime Minister explain to the leaders at the G8 summit why the policies he has supported in the middle east have plunged Iraq into chaos, established Iran as the dominant influence in the region, engaged British troops in an unachievable mission in southern Afghanistan and are now destabilising both Turkey and Pakistan?

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Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair (Prime Minister) | Hansard source

No, I did not. I have to say to the hon. Gentleman that I am afraid I do not recognise that either as a description of our foreign policy or, more important, of the challenge we face. As I have said many times, we shall not beat the terrorist threat by conceding to it.

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Photo of Ann McKechin Ann McKechin (Glasgow North, Labour) | Hansard source

I welcome the emphasis on the world trade talks at last week’s meeting, but does my right hon. Friend understand concerns that the meeting at Potsdam this month with the G4, which does not specifically include members from the least developed countries, may lead people to feel that the interests of the poorest in the world will not be adequately addressed? Can he advise me how the United Kingdom Government will ensure that their voices are properly heard and that the development package agreed at Hong Kong will be secured?

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Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair (Prime Minister) | Hansard source

My hon. Friend makes a good point. Part of what we did at the G8 was to recommit to the aid for trade package, which is a very important part of helping the developing world. However, within the context of the G4 and representation there from Brazil and India, we shall have the opportunity to debate the case on behalf of the developing world as well. Without going into details about the headline numbers, we are actually quite close—a lot closer than we have been—and the important thing to understand is that even if we were to agree what is on the table at the moment the benefits for the poorest countries in the world will be considerable; but I agree entirely with my hon. Friend that we have to remember that this is a development round and what was agreed at Hong Kong should be implemented.

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Photo of Quentin Davies Quentin Davies (Grantham & Stamford, Conservative) | Hansard source

May I add my congratulations to the Prime Minister on his achievement on the environmental front, particularly, and on taking such a strong line with President Putin? Does he agree that it may be desirable, and even necessary in the future, to link the world trade talks and the climate change agenda if we are to exert leverage on such countries as Brazil over deforestation, for example? Brazil is the major potential beneficiary of a new world trade agreement and if we lose the possibility of that linkage we may reduce chances of reaching the agreement that we so much want on both fronts.

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Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair (Prime Minister) | Hansard source

I understand entirely the point the hon. Gentleman is making. I was quite heartened by the contribution of the President of Brazil at the G8, which made it clear not merely, obviously, that he wanted a good outcome to the world trade round, but that he took seriously Brazil’s responsibilities in relation to deforestation. Through the December meeting, there is a chance of agreeing something far-reaching on that—the atmospherics on that at least, I thought, were good.

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Photo of David Borrow David Borrow (South Ribble, Labour) | Hansard source

I welcome my right hon. Friend’s remarks about increased expenditure on HIV treatment programmes, but may I raise with him the problems in improving programmes to reduce HIV transmission rates in a number of African countries? In some countries, such programmes have not been as successful as they could be because some donors insist that they are focused on the abstinence and being faithful parts of the ABC approach—abstain, be faithful, use a condom—and do not ensure that funds are made available for condoms? Did my right hon. Friend raise those issues at the conference, in particular with President Bush, as the United States is one of the donors that are the biggest culprits in the matter?

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Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair (Prime Minister) | Hansard source

It was not a specific part of the discussion, but the effectiveness of transmission programmes was. My hon. Friend is right: the difficulty is that maternal transmission, as I saw for myself in Africa a short time ago, is a huge problem. More and more young people are growing up with HIV/AIDS through absolutely no action of their own.

I think we still have quite a long way to go. We agreed to earmark money up to $5 billion, but I agree that we still have to reach into the basic reasons why programmes are successful. Without question, those reasons involve absolute honesty about how we can best change behaviour and being realistic and reasonable about what we require of people. On the other hand, as a result of what we have agreed on the transmission programmes there will be a greater focus on the matter, and there will therefore be a greater opportunity to get those arguments across.

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Photo of Angus Robertson Angus Robertson (Moray, Scottish National Party) | Hansard source

There is a lot to do on debt relief, HIV/AIDS and the environment, and on behalf of the Scottish National party and Plaid Cymru I welcome the progress made at the G8 summit in Heiligendamm. Does the Prime Minister accept that it is standard practice in the G8 that necessary prior consultation on agreements should take place before they are signed with Libya or anybody else?

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Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair (Prime Minister) | Hansard source

Of course it is. That is precisely why on the face of the agreement there is a requirement for consultation with the devolved Assemblies. Before any agreement can be concluded, there has to be consultation with devolved Government, including in respect of Libya and Scotland. All that would have been required was an inquiry from the First Minister’s office and the matter would have been cleared up immediately. Instead, we were subjected to a claim that we were trying to drive this through without consultation with the devolved Government in Scotland, which is simply not correct.

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Photo of Elliot Morley Elliot Morley (Scunthorpe, Labour) | Hansard source

I thank the Prime Minister for taking the trouble, with all the pressures in his diary, personally to address the global G8 plus 5 legislators’ dialogue in the German Bundestag just before the summit. The fact that his leadership is so recognised explains why he was presented with an award for global leadership and environment by a senior member of the Japanese Government, Mrs. Koike, and Senator McCain from the US. There has been a shift on the part of the Americans, and my right hon. Friend is to be congratulated on the role that he has played.

The US proposes a meeting in the autumn of the G8 plus 5. Does the Prime Minister think that that will add value to the process, or does it merely duplicate the process that he started at Gleneagles?

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Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair (Prime Minister) | Hansard source

I think that it does assist the process. If the United States holds such a meeting—of the G8 plus 5 or perhaps with two other countries—most of the countries sitting round the table will have agreed binding targets or will be in the process of agreeing them. Most will agree with the 50 per cent. cut in emissions, so it is somewhat unlikely that the US will hold such a meeting without some definitive progress arising out of it. For years, the world has said to America, “Get on board with this issue and start to lead on it”, and when it does the world says, “Are you trying to take it over?” President Bush made it clear at the summit that America saw the meeting as contributing to and not conflicting with the UN process. That is important. Unless we have agreement between the major emitters, the rest will never happen. I thank my right hon. Friend for his kind words, and for his considerable work on the issue.

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Malcolm Rifkind (Kensington & Chelsea, Conservative) | Hansard source

Does the Prime Minister agree that the recent spat between Russia and the west has little to do with the merits of missile defence and everything to do with the sensitivity that the Russians feel about how they believe they have been treated by the west over the past 15 years? Will the Prime Minister use such influence as remains to him so that on those matters, and only those matters, on which there is a legitimate joint interest—missile defence is one—the United States does not merely inform Russia of its intentions but tries to treat it as a partner in future policy?

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Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair (Prime Minister) | Hansard source

Yes, I think it is important that America does that. After all, America and Russia share some clear strategic goals, not least in ensuring a unified UN position vis-à-vis Iran. America and Russia want to co-operate in plenty of areas, and the recent statements by President Bush and the offer made at the bilateral meeting by President Putin show that they both understand that they have to find a modus vivendi in which each country pursues its interests, but in a co-operative way. However, it is important that Russia understands that when we support democracy in certain countries, for example, we are doing so not because we are pursuing a strategic interest that is aimed at Russia, but because we genuinely believe that that is the right principle. We need to be able to have a dialogue with Russia in which we take account of its genuine concerns and fears, yet do not allow them to obscure things that it is important we stand for in the long term.

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Photo of Colin Challen Colin Challen (Morley & Rothwell, Labour) | Hansard source

I, too, welcome the Prime Minister’s statement and congratulate him on the progress that he has made towards civilising George Bush. However, given George Bush’s record on climate change, what confidence can we really have that he will deal proactively with the problem in the remaining 18 months of his term of office? What assessments has my right hon. Friend made of the Chinese response to George Bush’s new-found commitments? Is China happy that he has done the right thing?

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Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair (Prime Minister) | Hansard source

As I said earlier, if people want America to move, and it moves, let us at least say that it has moved and try to make the best of that. This is important, and things are lot a more credible because America is saying that it will hold its own meeting with very much the people around the table at the G8. Something else needs to be said because in this debate, to be frank, countries sometimes hide behind America’s position. The truth is that no one will agree a substantial cut in emissions as part of a global deal unless China is also part of that. The Chinese have adopted a constructive attitude. They have a principle—a common, differentiated set of obligations—that we need to flesh out. However, we will need to do that while recognising the two absolute realities of the question of climate change: America will not agree unless China is part of the deal, and China will not agree unless it is able to develop its economy. We have to find a solution somewhere in that.

I think that the solution is a set of interlinking systems that, around a carbon price, incentivises business and industry to develop the technologies of the future. That is why the European emissions trading system, as it develops, has the possibility of considerably incentivising business to make changes to the way in which it works. However, let us be clear: the European trading system would be more radical if there were also a system in America and an obligation on the developing world. There is every possibility of achieving that, but it is in the negotiation, which will involve America and China, that the solution will be found.

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Photo of Evan Harris Evan Harris (Oxford West & Abingdon, Liberal Democrat) | Hansard source

I was pleased to hear the Prime Minister agree that the use of condoms is critical in fighting AIDS. When he meets the Pope, either as Prime Minister or perhaps afterwards, I hope that he will take the opportunity to make that point.

Will the Prime Minister reflect on his policy with respect to meeting the target of global universal treatment for HIV? His Government have a policy of trying to remove women and children who are being treated in this country for HIV and AIDS to countries where there is not such treatment because they do not have the required immigration status. Especially at a time when we are using those countries’ doctors, is that humane and logical?

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Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair (Prime Minister) | Hansard source

It is important that we ensure that we treat people who are here fairly. We will put £1.5 billion into HIV/AIDS treatment in Africa over the next few years. However, the trouble is that if we say that everyone who is HIV-positive and comes to this country can get treatment here, we will create a real pull factor for people to come here. We must be careful about how we do this.

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Photo of Tom Levitt Tom Levitt (PPS (Rt Hon Hilary Benn, Secretary of State), Department for International Development, High Peak, Labour) | Hansard source

I welcome the G8’s acknowledgement that the world’s poorest countries are also the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, whether that is desertification, drought or rising sea levels in places such as Bangladesh. I also welcome the commitment to working through the United Nations to ensure that climate change policy is implemented. Is my right hon. Friend confident that the United Nations has the clout to enforce such international agreements? Is this perhaps an opportunity to give a new urgency to questions of UN reform so that we can ensure that it will have the oomph to deliver in the future?

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Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair (Prime Minister) | Hansard source

The point that my hon. Friend makes is important, and I think that he is right: once an agreement is made, it is important that it is properly enforced. Personally, I think that reform of the UN Security Council is now long overdue. However, he is also right in saying that for poorer countries adaptation will be very difficult indeed, and that is why a specific part of the communiqué is geared precisely to making sure that as part of a global deal, we help the poorest to adapt to the change in climate.

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Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh (Gainsborough, Conservative) | Hansard source

Some unkind souls have suggested that in bilaterals with Sarkozy and Merkel, the Prime Minister took the opportunity to cobble together a deal on the European constitution, which would give us the constitution, but by another name. Perhaps the Prime Minister can assure us that that did not happen. If such negotiations or conversations did take place, would he like to share them with the House of Commons? We do have some right to be consulted, do we not? At the moment, the matter is not so much an enigma wrapped in a riddle as a secret locked away in a spin doctor’s briefcase. We would like to know.

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Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair (Prime Minister) | Hansard source

I am used to unkind souls occasionally casting aspersions on what we are trying to do, but on that point I can assure the hon. Gentleman that although it is, of course, important to discuss the issue with our European colleagues, before we get to the summit which is coming up in the next couple of weeks, there will be ample opportunity to discuss those issues.

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Photo of Jane Kennedy Jane Kennedy (Liverpool, Wavertree, Labour) | Hansard source

May I invite my right hon. Friend to say a little more about what he anticipates the benefits will be of expanding education in Africa in the way that he announced today? In my constituency, refugees who have rightly been granted asylum from such countries as the Congo, Cameroon and increasingly, sadly, Somalia, tell me when I meet them how grateful they are to Britain and to my right hon. Friend’s leadership for changing attitudes to Africa within the G8. He can rightly be proud of that change.

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Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair (Prime Minister) | Hansard source

I thank my right hon. Friend for that. In relation to education, it is important that we ensure that we meet the millennium development goal. The interesting thing is that as a result of the debt relief that has been given in the past few years, there are millions more children at school in Africa. If anyone ever asks, “Where does the money go to when we give debt relief and so on?”, I would say that countries such as Tanzania have seen massive increases in the number of children in primary education as a result. The other point that she makes relates, of course, to the self-interested reason for action on Africa. If we allow those countries to descend into conflict or even deeper poverty, they become prey for various extremist forces, and of course they also create large numbers of refugees who then seek to come to our country, so there is a good reason of self-interest to act on Africa.

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Photo of John Maples John Maples (Stratford-on-Avon, Conservative) | Hansard source

It seems to me that President Bush injected a welcome note of realism and was very constructive in pointing out to the G8 that there was no point in their talking to each other about climate change if the United States and the fast-developing economies of China and India were not involved in the process. The Prime Minister seems to recognise that, and he seems to see that it is in our interests to help those countries to reduce emissions. Has he seen the analysis that I have seen, which suggests that the marginal cost of helping China and India to reduce their carbon emissions is actually less than the cost of doing it for ourselves? In other words, it is in our interests, both economically and in terms of carbon emissions, to help them financially on that issue.

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Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair (Prime Minister) | Hansard source

Yes, that is right, and of course the whole purpose of building up something such as the clean development mechanism—for all the problems associated with it, it none the less does generate real income—is to be able to create a resource through which we can help those countries to use technology. For example, as we develop carbon sequestration or hydrogen fuel cell technology, we can share that technology with them. That is a crucial part of the issue. The problem with the whole debate, as I reflected when I heard what the leaders were saying, is that it is a matter of fairness what obligations each country has. It is a matter of fairness that the developed world, having developed, should not penalise the developing world, which wants the benefits of development. Unfortunately, the climate does not change according to where the emissions come from; that is simply a matter of science and fact. Therefore it is important that we make sure that the technology transfer and the sharing of the science is an integral part of any deal. Otherwise we will find it very hard, for understandable reasons, to persuade China and India to be part of it.

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Photo of Keith Vaz Keith Vaz (Leicester East, Labour) | Hansard source

May I join the Leader of the Opposition and others in congratulating the Prime Minister on his great success at the summit, which is a tribute not just to his personal skills but to the role that he has carved out for Britain, our special relationship with the United States and our pivotal role in Europe? Although the Outreach Five will be consulted throughout the process, does he not think that it is time that we should expand the G8 to include those five nations which, after all, represent 2.7 billion people, compared with the 800 million people in the G8? As a master of summitry, does he not think that it is time to expand the G8?

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Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair (Prime Minister) | Hansard source

It is going to be an increasing feature—let me put it diplomatically—of those summits that they involve, as a matter of course, the other five countries. It becomes very difficult—a bit like reforming the UN Security Council—to see where we draw the line, but as the Chinese economy, for example, grows over the next few years, it will become increasingly bizarre to discuss the leading world economies without China being present. However, that is for another time.

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Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt (North East Bedfordshire, Conservative) | Hansard source

On Kosovo, the Prime Minister and the House will recall the contribution made to the first Balkan crisis by the premature recognition of independence for Slovenia and Croatia by Germany. Can he give us an assurance that the UK Government are firmly against any premature recognition of Kosovan independence, particularly until the practical consequences have been worked out, not least the protection of minority communities in Kosovo?

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Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair (Prime Minister) | Hansard source

The protection of minority communities is an important issue. That is where Russia, for example —[ Interruption. ]

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Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin (Speaker) | Hansard source

Order. I expect hon. Members to stand at the beginning, so that I can make a calculation as to who I am going to call.
The hon. Member for Pendle (Mr. Prentice) should not come in at the last moment.

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Photo of Gordon Prentice Gordon Prentice (Pendle, Labour) | Hansard source

I have been here throughout.

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Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin (Speaker) | Hansard source

The hon. Gentleman therefore had an opportunity to stand at the beginning.

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Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair (Prime Minister) | Hansard source

Russia has a point in that it is important that we give proper protection to minorities. We are not going to move out of step with the international community—we will move in step with it—but the difficulty, as became apparent when we discussed Kosovo in detail, is that if we do not go down the path laid out by Mr. Ahtisaari, what happens? It is important that we do not do anything premature, but it is important that we reach a conclusion.

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Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant (Rhondda, Labour) | Hansard source

Unlike
the right hon. and learned Member for Kensington and Chelsea(Sir Malcolm Rifkind) and the implications of his question, I wholly congratulate the Prime Minister on adopting a robust attitude with the Russian President. Does the President understand that it is not just the UK but the whole European Union that wants to do business with Russia, but finds it increasingly difficult to do so as there is systematic use of torture by the police in Russia, the right to peaceful assembly is ignored, the murder of journalists such as Anna Politkovskaya remain unresolved, and companies such as BP and Shell are concerned that if they make significant investments in Russia in future they may be expropriated by the Russian Government?

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Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner (Bolsover, Labour) | Hansard source

That is not a bad policy.

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Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair (Prime Minister) | Hansard source

But not one that we shall pursue.

The truth about the relationship with Russia is that we need good relations with it. My meeting with President Putin at a personal level was friendly and cordial, but it will become harder to have the type of relationship that we want unless it is on the basis of certain agreed values. That is how the international community works today and, as I said, there are a lot of issues to resolve.

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Photo of William Cash William Cash (Stone, Conservative) | Hansard source

As the Prime Minister knows, a child dies every 15 seconds from foul water and lack of sanitation in Africa. He will know, too, that 220 MPs signed my all-party motion the subject; we went to Downing street and delivered a petition. The G8 water plan at Gleneagles promised to ensure access to safe water for 75 per cent. of people at risk in developing countries. There is nothing in the communiqué, and nothing in the Prime Minister’s statement, that deals with water, sanitation and the problems that I have described even though, by any standards, they are a top priority. What practical steps did the Prime Minister take to deliver the promises made at Gleneagles at the G8 summit?

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Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair (Prime Minister) | Hansard source

We are committed, as we were at Gleneagles, to deliver the water and sanitation pledges that we made. I think I am right in saying that that is in the G8 communiqué. However, the hon. Gentleman is right to say that we will have to put specifics on that for the time to come, with respect to water and sanitation and also infrastructure, because part of the problem that many African countries have is the amount of time it takes for them to get any goods to any port that is able to ship them for export. It is not just a question of trade barriers; it is a question of basic problems in relation to infrastructure. Water and sanitation is another issue. This year we decided to focus particularly on HIV/AIDS and education, but the point that the hon. Gentleman raises about water and sanitation would make a very sensible focus for next year’s G8.

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Photo of Vincent Cable Vincent Cable (Twickenham, Liberal Democrat) | Hansard source

Following the Prime Minister’s cryptic response to
the question from my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North-East Fife (Sir Menzies Campbell) about the G8’s commitment to fighting corruption, why should any major British company not assume that if it secures substantial business and employment by offering bribes to an overseas official in an allied country, the British Government will turn a blind eye to any breaches of the law and of our international obligations?

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Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair (Prime Minister) | Hansard source

Because that is neither what we are saying nor what we are doing. Allegations have been made in relation to that which are fiercely denied. That is not the issue. The issue is whether it is sensible for us to pursue an investigation that may go on for two or three years, which in my judgment would do enormous damage to a relationship that is of vital importance to this country. The hon. Gentleman should be wary of making allegations that are not undisputed—in fact, they are hotly disputed—and of saying that because the investigation is not going forward, those allegations are somehow accepted. They are not. The question is whether it is sensible and in this country’s interest to hold such an investigation, with all the damage that it would do. In the end, as I have said to the media, they have their job to do, but I have my job to do, and if I think something is contrary to the interests of this country, it is my duty to say to.

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Photo of David Curry David Curry (Skipton & Ripon, Conservative) | Hansard source

The Prime Minister will acknowledge that there have been reassurances after every summit meeting about new impetus behind the world trade talks, ever since the failure at Cancun. With more protectionist sentiment in the US Congress, and with a French President with an overwhelming majority but a constituency to defend, what confidence can we have that these assurances will be more concrete than previous ones, and what is the pathway after Potsdam to a final agreement?

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Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair (Prime Minister) | Hansard source

Part of the trouble is that underneath the surface, an immense amount has been going on. The matter has formed part of every conversation that I have had over the past few months with President Bush, Chancellor Merkel, the presidency of the European Union and so on. I have spoken regularly to the Prime Minister of India and to the President of Brazil about it. There are three elements: Europe must cut its tariffs, America must cut its farm subsidies, and on non-agricultural access Brazil, India and others must agree to a lower coefficient for progress to be made. Those three positions are coming closer together, which is why leaders have gone ahead with the meeting on
19 June. They would not have gone ahead with it at all unless there was a chance of reaching agreement. If they can reach agreement on headline numbers there or thereabouts, there is the possibility of concluding the agreement by the end of the year on the detail of it. There has been quite a lot of progress—far more than appears—just in the past few weeks, but the outcome hangs in the balance. It is not correct, as some people think because the subject has not been covered, that the thing has gone down. It has not. The discussion that we had around the table at the end of the G8 summit was more upbeat than one might have expected. They are very close now, but a little extra movement is required by all three parts.

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Photo of John Bercow John Bercow (Buckingham, Conservative) | Hansard source

I welcome the Prime Minister’s candid exchange with President Putin. Does he agree that the abuse of human rights in Chechnya, the sale last year of more than $34 million worth of arms to the murderous tyranny in Sudan and the use of the veto to stop concrete action against the brutal military dictatorship in Burma are an additional three good reasons why President Putin is not yet greeted with the uncritical acclaim of the international community that he apparently expects?

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Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair (Prime Minister) | Hansard source

Well, all these issues need to be examined. I think the most important thing is that Russia does understand that in the end there will be limits to the relationship that it is able to have with the rest of the world unless it is on the basis of shared values and shared principles. The problem is that of course people will want to deal with Russia and have to deal with Russia; we are engaged in talks with Russia on a number of different things that are of fundamental importance. I think the real question for Russia is this: does it want to maximise its relationship with the western world, in which case shared values and shared principles are the only basis on which to do it, or is it content to have it minimised? In the end, there is no point, as I have said before at the Dispatch Box, in our making empty threats—we are not in a position to deliver on those. What I tried to say to the President is that there is a real concern, as has been shown in the House today, and a sensible policy would take account of that. Of course, it is true that there are valid and legitimate points that Russia has to make about western policy towards Russia, but in the end those strategic interests can be gained only by recognising that certain values are fundamental to countries like ours and other western nations, and it is just not possible for them to be compromised.

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