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PM Statement to the House on military action

Prime Minister's Statement to the House on military action

The government reiterates its profound regret that the diplomatic process being conducted in the Security Council and through the inspection and disarmament process was unable to run its course.

This afternoon President Bush has announced that military action against Iraq is commencing.

The government reiterates its profound regret that the diplomatic process being conducted in the Security Council and through the inspection and disarmament process was unable to run its course. New Zealand strongly backed the work of UNMOVIC, including by sending 13 military personnel to support the weapons inspection team. We continue to hold to the view that the inspection process was making good headway, and it is unfortunate that the UN Security Council was unable to agree on its continuation.

We have consistently said that only through full compliance with the demands of the Security Council could Iraq have avoided the catastrophe of war. The fact that Iraq failed to take the opportunity provided to it, to co-operate fully with the inspection and disarmament process, means that the Iraqi people now face the prospect of serious hardship. The Iraqi leadership must take its full share of responsibility for this.

Now that military action has commenced, we clearly have a concern for the welfare of the Iraqi people. For that reason, the sooner the military action is over, the better. It is the strong wish of the New Zealand government that peace is restored as quickly as possible and that the issue of the next steps over Iraq is swiftly brought back into the multilateral arena.

At the end of this conflict, which I very much hope will indeed be short, the international community must be ready to contribute to the rebuilding and reconstruction of Iraq, and to humanitarian relief.

The government has this afternoon indicated that it will participate fully in reconstruction and humanitarian efforts within the umbrella of the multilateral system. Funds have already been pledged to relevant UN agencies, and consideration will be given to what further contribution New Zealand can make to the post-conflict challenges which Iraq will face.

The international community was regrettably unable to reach common agreement on the best means for disarming Iraq. It is, however, important that the international community now finds a way to come together at the end of this conflict to meet the needs of the Iraqi people for humanitarian relief and reconstruction. New Zealand will play its part in that process.

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