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lib dems wishy washy over smart sanctions

 I thought you may be interested in a discussion i had today with Greg Simpson, the Foreign Affairs researcher for the Lib Dems. As you may know, the Lib Dems announced a tacit anti sanctions policy at their conference september 2000.

In my constituency, Labour, Tory , Lib Dem and UKIP are the only choice so i was considering whether to vote or not, hence i contacted the LibDems to clarify whether they saw the smart sanctions proposal as being the end of the problem.
We had quite a good chat. he waxed hyperbole about the Lib Dems being the first party to call for a major review of sanctions , since 18 months ago and were the first party to call for an end to non military sanctions.
 He said they hadn't addressed the escrow account as an issue and so couldn't say whether they supported it being kept.
He also said that he could not see any good reason to maintain the ban on foreign credits and loans for rebuilding the infrastructure and said they had floated a proposal of an oil for reconstruction fund which would allow Iraq to get infrastructure repairs while repaying debts to creditors such as Russia, though he wasn't saying that this was policy.
He suggested that the new resolution was close to what the libdems had suggested, in terms of retaining oil for food in name only (his words not mine!) and indicated that they were supporting the new resolution because it would be mad not to support something which will make a positive difference on the ground, even if only an incremental one. He recognised it would not be doing enough.
He said that the new resolution was largely presentational in motivation, certainly from the US point of view, and played the old tune of the UK trying to drag the US into agreeing to make concessions. 
He said that to get the US to agree a number of "small compromises" had been necessary, one of which was the maintaining of the escrow account. (Small!) When asked what the other "small" compromises were he said he didn't have the details to hand. 
All seems a bit wishy washy to me. I doubt whether the mothers I met in a ward in Basra, who'd watched two babies die  because of sanctions the day before and were very worried about their own kids would have me vote for the LibDems but make up your own minds.....
You can call Greg at LibDem HQ on 020 7340 4927  
Richard Byrne, Voices

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