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New Zealand – United States discussion on Iraq


Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Media Statement

22 November 2002

New Zealand – United States discussion on Iraq
(reposted - including new para 6.)

Foreign Minister Phil Goff today met with the United States Charge d’Affairs, Phil Wall, to discuss the current situation in Iraq.

The meeting, requested by the United States, was to outline the US response to United Nations Resolution 1441 and contingency plans if Iraq failed to comply with the requirements of the Security Council.

“The US position is that the UN resolution offers Iraq a final opportunity to disarm peacefully and verifiably through unconditional and complete cooperation with UN weapons inspectors.

“However its view is that only the credible threat of force and serious consequences are likely to elicit Iraqi cooperation and compliance with the resolution.

“For this reason and as a contingency against Iraqi refusal to comply, the United States is seeking possible contributions for military or humanitarian assistance if force is used against Iraq.

“I outlined to Mr Wall that New Zealand would consider calls for assistance if action against Iraq was UN-mandated and within international law.

“However, I reiterated that these preconditions needed to be met and that New Zealand’s strong view was that force should only be used as a last resort. I noted that military action against Iraq entailed serious consequences including potential loss of innocent lives, the potential destabilising of the Middle East and the undermining of the existing broad and united coalition against terrorism. UN-mandated multi-lateral action would reduce some of these risks.

“I expressed New Zealand’s hope that Iraqi disarmament could be achieved peacefully. New Zealand’s commitment of 10 personnel to UNMOVIC has been in support of that objective.

“I indicated that because of New Zealand’s recent long-standing commitment of a substantial proportion of its combat forces in East Timor, and current commitment of army, air force and naval forces to Afghanistan in the war against terrorism it is unlikely that New Zealand could make a further commitment of combat forces.

“If the UN did mandate action against Iraq, New Zealand would however consider humanitarian, medical or logistic support.

“We hope, however, that common sense will prevail and Iraq will note the unanimous support for the Security Council Resolution and act to meet its requirements in full,” Mr Goff said.

ENDS

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