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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 January 2005, 11:48 GMT
Key points: Blair news conference
Here are the key points of Tony Blair's monthly news conference on 6 January, 2005:

Tsunami response

  • The reaction of British people to the Tsunami tragedy has been remarkable, Mr Blair said

  • The government's contribution to the aid effort would run into hundreds of millions of pounds

  • It is very likely that many of those Britons reported missing will also have died

  • Some 135,000 calls taken by the Foreign Office call centre

  • 40 British police officers working on task of identifying bodies in the disaster zone and mortuary facilities being provided

    The problem of Africa is not just about money - it's about the resolution of conflicts and good government
    Tony Blair

  • Efforts being made to ensure no UK citizens are buried in mass graves in the disaster zone

  • The government has offered to pay for the repatriation of all the bodies of British victims

  • Much-needed assistance had already been delivered, including sending one million water purification tablets to Aceh in Indonesia

  • Two RAF C-17 planes were being used, and forklift emergency lighting, communications equipment and further flights carrying aid had been sent

  • Navy ships HMS Chatham and RFA Diligence were off Sri Lanka and RFA Bayleaf would arrive in the next few days

  • Unicef has been given 4 million, the World Health Organisation 3 million, Red Cross and Red Crescent 3.5 million and Save the Children and Christian Aid 400,000 each

  • Foreign Secretary Jack Straw was at the conference in Indonesia to discuss what was needed "immediately" and in the coming months and years.

  • But Mr Blair said a proper structure and systems for ensuring aid was turned into effective action was needed

  • He said there were no medical reasons for him having not cut short his holiday after the tsunami.

    Africa

  • The tragedy of the Asian tsunami was "through the force of nature" but the tragedy of Africa was "through the failure of man".

  • There was the equivalent of a "man-made preventable tsunami every week in Africa", he said

  • There needed to be a comprehensive approach to tackling the problems of Africa.

  • He said he was sure the compassion of the British people could be mobilised to tackle the problems of the continent and dismissed claims of "compassion fatigue"

  • He acknowledged concerns efforts to aid the tsunami efforts may hamper assistance to Africa.

  • But he thought the "generosity and spirit of solidarity" of the British public would continue

  • "The problem of Africa is not just about money - it's about the resolution of conflicts and good government."

    Gordon Brown and election

  • Asked about reports of rifts with Chancellor Gordon Brown, Mr Blair said Mr Brown has done a "superb job as chancellor" and will carry on doing a superb job.

  • He said he and Mr Brown's relationship was "a strong partnership"

  • He denied the timing of his news conference - as Mr Brown delivered a keynote speech on Africa - was evidence of a split between the pair, insisting it showed an "absolute unity of purpose".

  • He refused to answer whether Mr Brown would be chancellor after the next election - saying that he was doing a good job, but he was not getting into the business of assuming a Labour election win.

  • He was taking nothing for granted, he said, adding: "I'm not getting into the business of what happens after elections and reshuffles and all the rest of it."

  • Asked about the chancellor's role at the coming general election, Mr Blair said there was no way a campaign could be fought without the chancellor and the economy being at the heart of it.

  • Mr Blair said he did not want to take part in a televised debate with rival party leaders in the election campaign.

    Middle East and Iraq

  • Asked about plans to host a conference on the Middle East peace process, Mr Blair said the Palestinian people have had "enough sympathy" - they now needed people to act.

  • It was time that their suffering stopped, but it would not stop unless the peace process could be got back on track. Preparatory work needed to take place for that to happen

  • Mr Blair said he had faith the Iraq elections planned for 30 January would go ahead.

  • Attacks by insurgents were deliberately intended to obstruct the electoral process.

  • There was now an upsurge in violence, he said, adding attacks would continue right up to the poll date

  • Successful elections would be a "major defeat for the terrorists"

  • On pulling British forces out, Mr Blair said: "We don't want to stay a moment longer that is necessary"

  • But Britain would only leave once Iraq was capable of organising and securing itself




  • SEE ALSO:
    Brown and I united, insists Blair
    06 Jan 05 |  UK Politics
    Brown sets out anti-poverty aims
    06 Jan 05 |  UK Politics
    Blair says UK tsunami aid to soar
    05 Jan 05 |  UK Politics


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