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A. US 'proof' over Iraqi trucks, Guardian, 7th March B. Countdown to war on Saddam, Daily Telegraph, 7th March C. U.S. Plans Presentation on Iraq, AP, 6th March D. Iraq faces Hobson's choice over UN arms inspections, FT, 7th March E. Jack Straw and the sanctions on Iraq, The Times, 7th March [letters] F. Hansard Excerpt from the debate on Iraq, 6th March 2002 Guardian: firstname.lastname@example.org Daily Telegraph: email@example.com Financial Times: firstname.lastname@example.org The Times: email@example.com The US has now presented its 'proof' that the Iraqi government had been diverting trucks from the oil-for-food programme to military uses. This is reported on in today's Guardian (A) and Telegraph (B) and there's some more information in the AP report (C). The satellite photos which are the basis for the allegations do not yet appear to have been made public. The Guardian piece quotes an anonymous 'British UN official' as stating that it was "not altogether clear" that the vehicles in question were bought through oil-for-food. According to AP the sanctions committee has asked the U.N. Office of the Iraq Programme 'to verify the U.S. information against its own records of truck imports into Iraq and report back.' D. is an interesting piece from today's Financial Times. It asserts that the head of UNMOVIC, Hans Blix, 'does not accept as fact the US and UK's repeated assertions that Baghdad has used the time to rebuild its weapons of mass destruction' quoting Mr Blix as stating that "It would be inappropriate for me to accept and adopt this position, but it would also be naive of me to conclude that there may be no veracity - of course it is possible, I won't go as far as saying probable." E. contains three letters in today's Times. Well done Fay (again!) and Glenn ... There are also a couple of (very short) letters about Iraq in today's Guardian. The rest of today's coverage is dominated by the spat between Ben Bradshaw and George Galloway in yesterday's Commons debate (see F). Unfortunately this altercation cut off Bradshaw's contribution just as he was getting started, depriving us of what might have been a rich vein of Government propaganda statements. In the Times Bradshaw is quoted as saying that he was 'simply expressing an opinion which is widely held' though it is difficult to see the relevance of this comment. Finally, Blair apparently has a piece about Iraq in yesterday's Daily Express. If anyone has a copy it'd be great if it could be posted to the list. Best wishes, Gabriel voices uk ******************************************************* A. US 'proof' over Iraqi trucks UN sees images of missile carriers Oliver Burkeman in New York Thursday March 7, 2002 The Guardian Satellite surveillance shows that Iraq has converted 1,000 trucks received under the oil-for-food programme into missile launchers and other military vehicles, the US government claimed last night. In a provocatively timed move, the US presented the evidence to members of the United Nations security council just hours before today's crucial meeting between the Iraqi foreign minister, Naji Sabri, and Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general. "Specifically, these are dump trucks that we have seen that were stripped and diverted for possible usage in air defence and missile systems - they could be used for launching missiles," a US official told the Guardian on condition of anonymity. "We saw a large number of them in military bases and barracks and garrisons, in clear violation of sanctions." The timing of yesterday's revelations also comes six days before Vice-President Dick Cheney meets Tony Blair in London - prompting suggestions that the US was seeking to provoke a confrontation with Baghdad just as the Bush administration attempts to shore up support for a possible military strike against Iraq. The Americans showed members of the security council's sanctions monitoring committee satellite shots which, they said, showed cargo trucks being offloaded at the Iraqi port of Um Qasr from last July onwards. Subsequent pictures appeared to show the same trucks, modified for military use, relocated to bases around the country. Some had been converted to carry 155mm howitzers; some were shown parked outside a missile development centre; others showed up as combat vehicles in the Army Day parade through Baghdad in December. The official said the trucks had been received under the oil-for-food scheme, rather than being smuggled into the country. He said the committee was shown a videotape of Iraqi TV which showed the trucks as the ones purchased through the programme, which allows Iraq to sell oil as long as the proceeds are spent on humanitarian goods or used to pay reparations. "Either way it's a violation of sanctions," a British UN official said, conceding that it was "not altogether clear" that the vehicles were bought through the programme. But critics accused the United States of seeking to force the secretary general's hand on Iraq, eliminating Mr Annan's room for manoeuvre. "The US wants to undermine [the Iraqi meeting with the UN], pure and simple," Scott Ritter, a former UN weapons inspector in Iraq, said yesterday. "I'm not challenging the US evidence, but when members of the Bush administration say that time is running out for Iraq to comply with sanctions, they show a level of arrogance that detracts from their legitimate concerns." The US official put the timing down to a coincidence of scheduling. "We'd been trying to arrange this for some time, and we really weren't trying to do it the day before," he said, adding it would be up to the security council to decide how it chose to deal with the evidence. *************************************************** B. Countdown to war on Saddam By Toby Harnden and George Jones Daily Telegraph (Filed: 07/03/2002) THE countdown to war against Iraq began yesterday when America presented satellite evidence to the United Nations showing that Saddam Hussein had misused humanitarian aid to bolster his army. Although the immediate aim was to persuade the UN Security Council to block the import of lorries, the move marked the start of a process the Bush administration believes will end in Saddam's overthrow. The photographs, produced at the Security Council's Iraq sanctions committee, were before and after pictures of lorries entering military bases near Baghdad and emerging as rocket launchers. For the Americans, they provided confirmation of Saddam's willingness to abuse the good intentions of international organisations and underlined the need for "regime change" in Iraq - the new Washington buzz phrase. America's fear is that Saddam will use weapons of mass destruction he has been developing since UN inspectors were ejected from Iraq in 1998 to attack America or its allies. Officials argue that he could also form an "unholy alliance" with the remnants of al-Qa'eda. Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, is due to hold talks today with Naji Sabri, the Iraqi foreign minister, about the possible return of the inspectors. Washington wants the UN to issue a new demand for inspectors to be admitted, but hopes that Saddam rejects this and so provide the casus belli. Britain's central role in the coming campaign was emphasised when Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the British ambassador to the UN, joined his American counterpart, John Negroponte, in meeting Mr Annan on Tuesday to "stiffen his resolve" before the Iraqi meeting, a diplomatic source said. A Bush administration source told The Telegraph that it had never been doubted that Britain would join the Iraqi campaign. Acknowledging opposition elsewhere in the world, he said: "When we say we might have to go it alone, 'we' really means 'you and us'." Although British officials in Washington, like their counterparts in the State Department and Pentagon, refuse to be drawn publicly on the issue, they concede that Tony Blair has little choice. A British diplomat said: "Blair has associated himself so closely with the war on terrorism that it is too late to get cold feet now." The Prime Minister will fly to Washington early next month to meet President Bush for what is being seen as a war summit. Although he told MPs yesterday that "no decisions" had been taken on possible military action against Iraq, he gave a clear hint that preparations were in hand for another Gulf war. "Iraq is plainly in breach of the United Nations Security Council resolutions in relation to the accumulation of weapons of mass destruction and we have to deal with it," he said. Labour MPs have warned Mr Blair that he could face a major back bench revolt if action is taken without clear and convincing evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction and is involved in sponsoring global terrorism. The Government is understood to be preparing a dossier on Iraq's terrorist links and attempts to produce nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. This is likely to be published before any military action. Mr Blair's attempts to persuade Labour MPs that Britain should back American action against Iraq have been damaged by Mr Bush's decision to impose tariffs on imported steel, which could cost British steel jobs. Since Mr Bush's depiction of Iraq in his State of the Union speech in January as part of an "axis of evil", discussion in Washington has shifted decisively from whether Saddam should be removed to how and when this should be done. Publicly and privately, senior officials are virtually silent on the debate raging between agencies of government. Even Donald Rumsfeld, the normally talkative defence secretary, appears to have taken a Trappist vow on the matter. "The focus on Iraq is something that I find not helpful, from my standpoint," he told The Telegraph last month. "And I am not in a position to really discuss a lot of it. So I think I'll pass." Although no timetable has been drawn up, Mr Bush possesses powerful political momentum for striking against Iraq. Public opinion is behind him and the opposition from Democrats is negligible. These conditions might not last beyond this year and some Republicans believe that the action could begin as early as the spring. A central element of the debate is the strength of Saddam's regime. Pentagon leaders argue that Iraq is much weaker than a decade ago and that a full-scale invasion would be unnecessary. An American official said that Mr Rumsfeld's silence spoke volumes. "There are some very, very serious discussions going on around town," he said. "The President has called for options to be laid out, but this is all being confined to the absolutely highest levels of the administration." The Pentagon appears to hold the upper hand in the debate, partly because of the success of the war in Afghanistan but also because of the psychological change in America since September 11. Before the Afghan offensive began, there were warnings of a Vietnam-style quagmire and a Muslim backlash. Neither has materialised and this has weakened calls for restraint against Iraq. Gen Colin Powell, the secretary of state and a former opponent of tackling Iraq, is losing his influence on the issue. Congress has backed the Iraqi National Congress, the London-based umbrella opposition group. It believes that its charismatic leader, Ahmad Chalabi, could head a democratic Iraq. But the CIA sees Chalabi, a Sunni Muslim who left Iraq in the 1950s to read mathematics at the University of Chicago, as a divisive and autocratic figure. Its says he could not muster enough support. Many senior military officers also remain to be convinced. Gen Anthony Zinni, Gen Tommy Franks's predecessor as the army's head of central command, has said that relying on the INC could result in a "Bay of Goats" disaster, a wry reference to the Bay of Pigs invasion fiasco in Cuba in the early 1960s. ************************************************** C. U.S. Plans Presentation on Iraq Wed Mar 6, 9:26 PM ET By EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press Writer UNITED NATIONS - On the eve of the high-level talks between Iraq and the United Nations, the United States showed slides and video footage Wednesday purportedly showing that Iraq has converted trucks for military use in violation of U.N. sanctions. Six senior U.S. State Department officials made the presentation to the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions imposed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait late Wednesday. Earlier in the day, the same group made the presentation to the U.N. weapons inspection agency for Iraq, diplomats said. The committee met behind closed doors less than 24 hours before Iraq's Foreign Minister Naji Sabri was scheduled to open the first high-level talks in a year with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the implementation of resolutions dealing with sanctions, including the return of U.N. weapons inspectors. The U.S. officials told the sanctions committee Washington believes Iraq has diverted about 1,000 trucks imported from Russia and Germany under the U.N. oil-for-food humanitarian program since last July for a variety of military uses including towing artillery, carrying heavy weapons and launching missiles and rockets, a U.S. official said. The committee was shown about half a dozen slides taken by U.S. satellites of heavy trucks arriving at the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr, at the northern end of the Gulf, and the same type of vehicles at different military bases, said the official who briefed reporters after the presentation on condition of anonymity. According to the Americans, some trucks had been painted in camouflage. Some had been stripped for use as flatbed trucks to haul heavy artillery, with their hydraulic systems removed for possible use in rockets or missiles. Some had their beds removed and hydraulic systems intact for possible use in raising or lowering missiles. While the sanctions committee was not shown photos of any missiles mounted on trucks, Western diplomats said U.S. officials have shown such photos to some U.N. officials and diplomats. Under U.N. sanctions, Iraq is barred from importing any equipment for military use. "Though this may not be the highest technology equipment, it is equipment that allows them to project power more effectively," a British diplomat said. After a 2 1/2-hour meeting, the sanctions committee decided to ask the U.N. office that implements the oil-for-food program to verify the U.S. information against its own records of truck imports into Iraq and report back. "It is a matter of great concern to all of us and the committee if these truck are indeed being diverted to military use," said Mauritius' U.N. Ambassador Jagdish Koonjul. "So we will wait to get more information from the oil-for-food division before we take action." Syria's deputy U.N. ambassador Fayssal Mekdad said members questioned whether the trucks may have arrived in Iraq before the oil-for-food program started in 1996, or been smuggled into the country. Mekdad said the United States and Britain "firmly believe" that the trucks were converted to military use but "all others do not share that conviction." The oil-for-food program is an exemption to sanctions and aims at helping ordinary Iraqis cope with the embargoes. It allows Iraq to sell unlimited amounts of oil provided the revenue goes to buy food, medicine and other humanitarian goods, pay war reparations, and improve public services such as water and education. While the sanctions committee has approved over $32 billion in contracts for humanitarian supplies, it has held up contracts worth $5.3 billion. The vast majority of those "holds" have been placed by the United States because of concerns that the goods have a potential dual military use. Several diplomats questioned the timing of the U.S. slide presentation, suggesting it was being done Wednesday to provoke a last-minute confrontation with the Iraqis just before the meeting with Annan. The Iraq-U.N. meeting, the first since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, is taking place at a time of heightened tensions between Washington and Baghdad. Iraq has been singled out as a likely future target in the U.S. war on terrorism, now focused on Afghanistan. President Bush has called Iraq part of an "axis of evil" supporting terrorism, along with Iran and North Korea. Asked about the U.S. timing, the American official retorted: "How about the timing of the Iraqis who have been years in their delay in complying with U.N. resolutions? We're running out of time." Under Security Council resolutions, sanctions cannot be lifted until U.N. inspectors certify that Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons have been eliminated along with the long-range missiles to deliver them. Inspectors left Baghdad in December 1998 ahead of U.S. and British airstrikes and Iraq has barred them from returning. ************************************************** D. Iraq faces Hobson's choice over UN arms inspections: The Security Council is finally getting tough with Baghdad, says Carola Hoyos: Financial Times; Mar 7, 2002 By CAROLA HOYOS Naji Sabri al-Hadithi, Iraq's new foreign minister, will be given little choice when he meets Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, today. Allow the unconditional return of UN weapons inspectors or face the consequences. After months of US threats of military action, the Security Council, so often paralysed by divisions over Iraq, is backing the return of inspectors. Russia, Iraq's closest friend on the Council, has been unusually quiet in its opposition to Washington's tough line. Meanwhile, the UK, the US's staunchest ally, has in recent weeks inched closer and closer towards reversing its position and backing Washington's threat to bomb Iraq if it does not comply. All this has not been lost on Baghdad. Mr al-Hadithi will be joined by some top officials, including a senior weapons expert, when he returns to the negotiating table today. The talks will mark a crucial test of Iraq's willingness to heed growing international calls for the return of UN inspectors and avert a US military campaign likely to target the Saddam Hussein regime. A breakdown in the discussions would raise the pressure on President George W. Bush to resort to military force following recent warnings that Iraq must take the inspectors back or face the consequences. "The fact that they are coming with a senior delegation is a good sign that they want to have discussions with the secretary-general about, as they would see it, the options open to them," said Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Britain's ambassador to the UN. "As the Security Council, and I'm sure the secretary-general, see it, the options open to them are compliance." Diplomats see today's talks as the beginning of a dialogue that for the first time will include Hans Blix, the UN's chief weapons inspector. Mr Annan chose Mr Blix, a Swedish disarmament expert and the long-time director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, to lead the inspections initiative outlined in a 1999 resolution that the Security Council hoped would persuade Iraq to let inspectors return. But Iraq has refused and Mr Blix has not set foot in Iraq in the past two years. Although Mr Blix may be closer than he has ever been to getting his inspectors into Iraq - with Iraqi officials hinting at a willingness to compromise - most believe that even if Iraq agrees, it will be months before he can send a team to Baghdad to evict the pigeons that took over the office UN inspectors left in 1998. Many of Iraq's critics believe the regime blocked the return of inspectors after they came too close to discovering the true extent of Iraq's arsenal of chemical and biological weapons and long-range missiles. In their eight years in Iraq between 1991 and 1998, weap ons inspectors found evidence of anthrax and the deadly VX nerve gas. Mr Blix, like his predecessor, believes the most serious threat remains Iraq's arsenal of biological weapons. Though cautious, Mr Blix sees a new flexibility in the Iraqi position, remaining more optimistic than most diplomats that Baghdad - keen to see sanctions suspended - may co-operate with inspectors, rather than repeat the cat-and-mouse game it played last time. Though he acknowledges that his 230 inspectors would have their work cut out were they able to return to Iraq following a three-year interruption of investigations, he does not accept as fact the US and UK's repeated assertions that Baghdad has used the time to rebuild its weapons of mass destruction. "It would be inappropriate for me to accept and adopt this position, but it would also be naive of me to conclude that there may be no veracity - of course it is possible, I won't go as far as saying probable," Mr Blix said. The US has focused on the threat of Iraq's chemical and biological weapons after September 11, and has become far less willing to allow Iraq time to play Security Council members off against each other. Nevertheless, most diplomats expect Baghdad to extend the talks for as long as possible, basing its tactics on a perception of the changing tide of support for the US and the likelihood of bombing. Many believe Iraq will not begin negotiations in earnest until after the Arab summit in Beirut at the end of the month, where it hopes to garner support from its neighbours. Some close to the discussions say Iraq is hoping that the longer and messier the conflict in Afghanistan becomes, the less appetite and support the US wi ll have for a new front. And Iraq is counting on the five permanent members of the security council - the US, UK, Russia, China and France - to return to their old habit of squabbling over details to avert a US attack. ************************************************* E. Jack Straw and the sanctions on Iraq Letters, The Times 7th March 2002 >From Mr Glenn Bassett Sir, Jack Straw (Comment, March 5) would have every right to be angry if “well-meaning people” were taken in by the “Iraqi propaganda machine”. However, those who have been calling for the lifting of economic sanctions on that country because of their deleterious effects have not used the Iraqi Ministry of Information as their source, but respected UN bodies and NGOs. Even if Mr Straw is right to insist that the UN allows Iraq to access “all the humanitarian goods” it needs (through legitimate trade), that alone does not solve the problem. The Red Cross reported in March 2000 that . . . aid can be no substitute for a country’s entire economy. It can never meet all the basic needs of 22 million people nor ensure the maintenance of a whole country’s collapsing infrastructure. In 1999 a UN humanitarian panel made the same conclusion, as did the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (1995) and the last two UN co-ordinators of the oil-for-food programme itself. Unicef reported that the sanctions had contributed to the excess deaths of some half-a-million Iraqi infants. Yours faithfully, GLENN BASSETT, 29 John Street, Enfield, Middlesex EN1 1LG. March 5. >From Dr Fay Dowker Sir, The “anger” of Jack Straw at those who oppose economic sanctions on Iraq should be compared to the anguish of those Iraqi parents whose children have died due to a lack of clean water, caused by the destruction of sanitation systems by US and British bombs and the sanctions regime. Whose emotion should count more with people of conscience? Yours sincerely, FAY DOWKER, 40 Walford Road, N16 8ED. March 5. >From Mrs Roslyn Pine Sir, In 1981 Israel took unilateral action based on intelligence that Iraq’s nuclear capability was about to go “critical” and bombed the reactors at Osirak (report, June 9, 1981). The predictable obloquy was heaped upon that plucky little country. What we require from our leaders is not waffle or explanations but rather decisive action to neutralise a deadly threat that has been present for too long. Yours sincerely, ROSLYN PINE, 80 Upper Park Road, Salford M7 4JA. March 5. ****************************************************** F. Hansard Excerpt from the debate on Iraq, 6th March 2002 The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Ben Bradshaw) : I congratulate the Father of the House, the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell), on securing the debate. I apologise in advance as I do not intend to take any interventions. I have barely 10 minutes to respond to hon. Members' questions and to put Government policy on the record, especially in the light of the 16 minutes taken up by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Kelvin (Mr. Galloway). First, I shall take head-on the points raised in the debate. The hon. Member for Linlithgow began by making a point that, strangely, is often made when a 6 Mar 2002 : Column 87WH debate has been secured on an issue: he complained that we never have enough time to debate these things. That view was echoed by the hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Turner), who spent all his time addressing that matter rather than the subject. I do not need to remind hon. Members that the Prime Minister has spent more time in the House answering questions and making statements than either of his two predecessors. I shall bring the matters raised by my hon. Friend and the hon. Gentleman to the attention of my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary. The Father of the House talked about proposals; there are no proposals, only speculation. The hon. Gentleman said that everything possible should be done to avoid military action; I agree with him. He urged the Government and the international community to talk to the Iraqis. As I am sure he knows, Kofi Annan is tomorrow holding a meeting with an Iraqi delegation in New York and we await the outcome with interest. Our doors are always open to the Iraqis with whom we have contacts in this country and at the United Nations. However, we have nothing to say to them in private that we do not say in public. We wait to see whether they are serious; Saddam Hussein has embarked on charm offensives before and they have come to nothing. I was grateful to the Father of the House who, in contrast to my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Kelvin, at least quoted Kofi Annan accurately. He included the phrase "at the present time" in the Secretary General's views on military action. My hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, South (Mr. Simpson) made the point that this has nothing to do with the war on terrorism. We do not quite agree; Iraq is a state sponsor of terrorism. But, we make no secret of the fact that our main concern about that country is its determination to build weapons of mass destruction capability and the threat that it poses, not just to its neighbours, but to the rest of the world. My hon. Friend urged the Prime Minister to speak to Kofi Annan. The Prime Minister speaks to him on a regular basis. He called for an outbreak of diplomacy; I am not sure where he has been for the past 12 years. Britain has been in the lead as the architect of the oil-for-food programme and in trying to get a new sanctions regime instituted at the United Nations, which we are confident will be done in May, having won support from the Russians. It is wrong to suggest that Britain has been inactive on the diplomatic front. My hon. Friend questioned whether there would be any legal base in the hypothetical circumstances that there is military action. The legal view, with which I have some sympathy, is that Iraq is in flagrant breach, not just of United Nations resolutions, but of the ceasefire agreement that it entered into at the end of the Gulf war, which makes that ceasefire no longer valid. My hon. Friend went on to say that other countries possess weapons of mass destruction. That is stating the obvious, but he must accept that Iraq is unique in the history of the world in that it has used chemical weapons against its neighbours and its own people, killing tens of thousands in both cases. He went on to suggest that any 6 Mar 2002 : Column 88WH action against Iraq would break up the international coalition against terrorism and would go down extremely badly in the Arab world. It is worth making the point that all Labour Members who have spoken in the debate in opposition to the Government's policy opposed our policy in Afghanistan and opposed our policy in Kosovo. They were wrong then, and they are wrong now. They also raised the spectre of a disaster in the Arab world over Afghanistan—and look what has happened. I know from my contacts with leaders in the Arab world as recently as last week at the Gulf Cooporation Council and the EU summit at Grenada in Spain that, as the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Fife (Mr. Campbell) said, there is no love lost between the Arab countries and Saddam Hussein. If anything does happen, their main concern is that it works. I am grateful for the sympathy of the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Carmichael), but I do not need it. He suggested that the layout in Westminster Hall meant that the Government were isolated. That was a rather bizarre statement, coming immediately after a supportive speech from my hon. Friend the Member for Knowsley, North and Sefton, East (Mr. Howarth) and a supportive intervention from my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South (Mike Gapes). The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland said some wise things about the middle east, but he suggested that, before there was talk about taking military action against Iraq, we needed to solve every other problem in the world. That is a strange argument. My hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Mrs. Mahon) spoke about the Labour party being the party of conflict resolution. Yes, we are the party of conflict resolution and peaceful solutions. But she and her hon. Friends have to ask themselves—as they failed to do in the instances of Kosovo and Afghanistan—what do they do, faced with a brutal, dictatorial regime that is building a weapons of mass destruction programme and threatening its neighbours and us? It has used those weapons on its neighbours and on its own people. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Baillieston (Mr. Wray) spoilt his argument about United States isolationism because he said that he had no confidence in the United Nations either. I do not know where that leaves us. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Kelvin made his familiar views known in his inimitable way. Some of the good points that he made on the middle east peace process would, I believe, carry more credibility if he had not made a career of being not just an apologist, but a mouthpiece, for the Iraqi regime over many years. Mr. Galloway : Why do you not give way on that slander? Mr. Bradshaw : We are not discussing— Mr. Galloway : The Minister is a liar. Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. John McWilliam): Order. The hon. Gentleman must withdraw that statement. Mr. Galloway : The Minister told a lie about me. Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. The hon. Gentleman must withdraw that statement. 6 Mar 2002 : Column 89WH Mr. Galloway : Why? The Minister told a blatant lie about me. What else could I do. What else can I call it? I demand that he withdraws the allegation against me. Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. The hon. Gentleman must withdraw immediately. Mr. Galloway : An allegation of dishonourable conduct has been made against me by the Minister. It is an assumption in the House that Members are honourable gentlemen and ladies. His imputation that I am a mouthpiece for a dictator is a clear imputation of dishonour. He is the one who should be withdrawing, not me. Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. I have no alternative, but to report this matter to the House. I must immediately suspend the sitting for 10 minutes. 10.59 am Sitting suspended. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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