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Put your question to the PM !



Contents
A) Your opportunity to ask an anti-sanctions question of Tony Blair !
B) Letter from Peter Hain from today's Guardian (letters@guardian.co.uk)
C) The piece that Peter Hain is responding to.

A) The Independent  regularly run a feature called "You ask the Questions",
where questions from their readers are put to a celebrity, politician etc...
Next week Tony Blair will be the one in the 'hot seat'.

Please send your anti-sanctions questions to yourquestions@independent.co.uk
. Remember, if they get a heap of these they might just publish one !
Questions probably need to be kept very short (the longest questions in
today's paper is 23 words long).

B) From the Letters Page of The Guardian
Wednesday December 6, 2000

Hain's Pain

Matthew Norman's claim that the government blocked a recent Moroccan
humanitarian flight to Iraq is untrue (Diary, December 5). The UN sanctions
committee received details of the flight on a Friday evening. It set a
deadline on the following Monday afternoon for committee members to approve
or object to the flight and asked the Moroccan authorities to delay the
flight until then. In the meantime, Britain placed the flight on hold while
we checked its inventory for prohibited items. On the Monday afternoon we
approved the flight.

This is not the first time we have been accused - falsely - of blocking
genuine humanitarian flights to Iraq, among these one arranged in March by
George Galloway MP, and a flight he was on from Bulgaria last month. I
happen to believe that Saddam Hussain's murderous rule must be opposed and
that sanctions help do this. That is my motivation: not some Matthew Norman
fantasy about "cabinet ambitions".

Peter Hain MP
Foreign minister

C) Excerpt from Matthew Norman's 'Diary' entry (The Guardian, 5th December
2000)

 Poor Peter Hain becomes ever more confused about the Iraqi sanctions. For
weeks, the ambitious Foreign Office minister has been saying in briefings
that Britain wants them to end, but that the hawkish Americans are insisting
they remain. How this tallies with the story of a plane chartered by the
Moroccan lawyers' association to take humanitarian supplies (mainly medical)
and 55 lawyers to Baghdad is a mystery. The plane was grounded at Casablanca
for three days while our government, as a member of the UN 661 sanctions
committee, kept demanding more details. Eventually, the Moroccan ambassador
to the UK called George Galloway, the Commons' leading opponent of
sanctions, to say that publicity was causing "widespread anti-British
feeling" in Morocco. George wrote to Peter and soon after the flight finally
left. What may embarrass Peter, given his line that only US intransigence is
prolonging sanctions, is that the Americans on UN 661 raised no objection to
the flight. Nor did anyone else but the British. Peter may have to play his
little games rather more cleverly if he is to crawl into the cabinet next
year.


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