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Below are some of the exchanges that took place during questions to Foreign Office Ministers in the House of Commmons yesterday. The entirety of Question Time is at www.parliament.uk Mrs. Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham): With Saddam clearly not back in his cage, as the Secretary of State promised, the need for a new approach to the Iraqi regime is now very urgent. The French and the Russians are calling for a relaxation of sanctions, which is alarming the people in northern Iraq, who fear that they may lose the oil revenues that they receive for humanitarian purposes directly from the UN escrow account and be forced, once again, to rely directly on Saddam and Baghdad. Will the Secretary of State assure us that on this occasion the new approach will be properly thought through and that he will ensure not only that Saddam's capacity to produce weapons is monitored, but that any new approach will give full weight to making sure that food and medical supplies reach the children and people of Iraq who are suffering at the hands of Saddam Hussein? Mr. Cook: I can repeat to the hon. Lady and the House the assurances that I have given several times--there are no sanctions against imports of food and medicines by Saddam Hussein and, in a period when he persists in saying that his people go hungry, his harvest in Iraq has increased by 15 per cent. We are certainly exploring how we can build a diplomatic consensus to isolate Saddam Hussein and we are in dialogue with France and Russia on those points. 19 Jan 1999 : Column 700 I am unclear as to whether the hon. Lady was seeking the relaxation of sanctions, but if Saddam Hussein wants sanctions to be relaxed, he should comply with the Security Council resolutions and abandon his expensive programme of developing weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Llew Smith (Blaenau Gwent): Will the Foreign Secretary explain why the Government treat Iraq and Israel differently when they are both in breach of UN resolutions? Does he accept that the weapons of mass destruction in the hands of both those countries are outlawed by the United Nations? We know the Government's position on Iraq; will he now explain their position on Israel? Mr. Cook: I have already this afternoon explained our position in relation to the Government of Israel and made it perfectly plain that we greatly regret their unilateral actions which undermine the peace process. If my hon. Friend is attempting to put both Governments in the same box, he should reflect on the fact that Saddam Hussein is the leader of a country in which he has himself used chemical and biological weapons. He used them extensively against his neighbour in the Iran-Iraq war and used them mercilessly against his own people in the Kurdish area where he killed 5,000 villagers when he attacked Halabja. We cannot walk away and leave a man with such a track record in possession of those weapons. Mr. Campbell-Savours: On the question of a new approach, are the Government in principle opposed to a sanctions-free Basra enclave in southern Iraq? Mr. Fatchett: My hon. Friend has advanced that idea for some time. We continue to look at ideas that will enable us to achieve our objectives of disarmament, containment and helping the people of Iraq. I am not yet convinced that my hon. Friend's notion is the best way to proceed, but we shall certainly continue to consider all ideas. Mr. Harry Barnes (North-East Derbyshire): I am pleased that the Government do not favour the Basra enclave option. Would it not lead to the beginning of the break-up of Iraq and problems over which area Basra would be associated with--for instance, with Iran? Given that Basra is the only port in Iraq, the people of Iraq, who are already in very bad economic circumstances, would be cut off from their supplies. If the enclave were established, it would look like American-British occupation. Mr. Fatchett: We have always said that we want to maintain the territorial and political integrity of Iraq. My hon. Friend makes several important points in that context. We shall certainly continue to ensure the imposition of no-fly zones, which are very important to the security of people in southern and northern Iraq. To remind the House of what my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said earlier, those no-fly zones are there to protect the ordinary people of Iraq, and are crucial for that reason. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email email@example.com, NOT the whole list. Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html