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NEWS IN BRIEF

EUROPE

26 Sep 06. Tony Blair on Tuesday bade farewell to the Labour conference with a tough but tender speech, declaring he loved his party – but that it must not retreat into a leftwing “comfort zone” of politics after he is gone.
In a dazzling final address to the Labour conference that left many delegates in tears, the prime minister said he wanted to heal the divisions with Gordon Brown, the chancellor, whom he praised as “a remarkable man, a remarkable servant to this country”. In spite of accusations that Mr Blair has been forced out in a coup orchestrated by the chancellor’s allies, the prime minister told the conference: “Of course it is hard to go. But it is also right to go – for the country and for you, the party.” However, Mr Blair – as expected – stopped short of endorsing Mr Brown as his successor. (Source: FT.com)
BATTLESPACE Comment: Where Mr Blair will ply his trade next is unknown. He was the architect of more wars than any other British Prime Minster, committing under equipped troops to areas of extreme danger. It is unlikely that a defence company will be his next stop. Given the circumstances, we quite understand Mrs Blair’s various reactions to Mr Brown’s speech. In general, we believe that it is a disgrace that the British people have been submitted to such a public spat for so long by two men who claim to be public servants!

24 Sep 06. Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, appeared to agree a truce with France and Germany over the future of EADS, Europe’s leading aerospace and defence group, at the weekend in exchange for €10bn ($12.8bn, £6.7bn) of infrastructure projects and promises of closer co-operation on aerospace. Alarm bells have been ringing in Paris and Berlin since a Russian state-owned bank said this month it had bought 5 per cent of EADS, which is jointly controlled by French and German interests. These worries intensified after an aide to Mr Putin said the stake could become a blocking minority. But on Saturday, in the relaxed setting of an 18th-century chateau at Compiègne, north-east of Paris, Mr Putin was at pains to reassure French President Jacques Chirac and Angela Merkel, German chancellor, that the investment was “not at all a sign of aggressive behaviour”. “I want to put you all at ease,” Mr Putin told journalists at the informal Franco-German-Russian summit. “We do not have the intention of using this stake to change or influence the policy of EADS.” He said the bank had “taken advantage of favourable market conditions”. He said Mr Chirac and Ms Merkel had agreed to set up a working group with Russia to examine ways of co-operating on space travel and aviation. The three leaders also stressed their common positions on Iran’s nuclear programme, the Lebanon ceasefire and Kosovo’s future. Concern has been growing in Europe about Russia’s attempts to use its valuable energy resources as a political tool to boost its influence abroad. Russia supplies 30 per cent of Europe’s natural gas. Mr Putin stressed Moscow was a “stable and reliable” partner. (Source: FT.com)

08 Sep 06. UK considers its options for ‘reachback’ communications. Funds for the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MOD’s) Pilot Direct Broadcast System (PDBS), which is being used to support British and other NATO troops on operations in Afghanistan, are due to run out at the end of 2006 when its three-year support phase concludes. (Source: Jane’s International Defence Review)

08 Sep 06. Operational demands stretch UK forward air control capacity and Bowman access. The demands of current operations in Afghanistan and Iraq are outstripping the manning and equipment levels catered for under the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MOD’s) masterplan for expansion of its forward air control capacity. (Source: Jane’s International Defence Review)

25 Sep 06. $10bn in Contracts Likely Topic When Erdogan Meets With Bush. Turkish contracts worth more than $10bn and involving U.S. manufacturers are a likely topic between Turkish and U.S

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