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Government ideology blocks real help for Iraq

Government ideology blocks real help for Iraq

The Government's hardening opposition to the war in Iraq will have one deadly consequence, more suffering for Saddam Hussein's oppressed people, according to National Party Leader Bill English.

When the war was imminent Helen Clark said 'we would join an international effort for humanitarian aid, for medical support and the kind of work our army engineers could do.'

"Now all we're prepared to send is a cheque, what has changed?" Mr English asks.

"The National Party believes our small country can do more than that and should.

"It doesn't matter whether you support or oppose this conflict, humanity is the common thread and New Zealand should be looking to restore its reputation as a nation that cares.

"Instead we're going to turn our back on the pain and suffering unless there's UN backing," says Mr English.

"The National Party strongly supports New Zealand's traditional friends and allies, and like them it's committed to regime change in Baghdad.

"But the National Party is firmly of the view that this war will need to be followed up with substantial aid, not just in the form of money but expertise as well," he says.

"The gap between Helen Clark and our traditional allies is growing daily, now she's positioned New Zealand as the country that doesn't care if it's not happening in our patch.

"Now is the time for the ideological arguments to be laid to one side as New Zealand and New Zealanders prepare to help with life in Iraq after Saddam," Mr English says.

Meanwhile, the National Party's also calling on Foreign Affairs to issue a reminder to the New Zealand media of the rules they face under international law.

"The identity of POW's is protected under the Geneva Convention, so pictures of them should not be appearing on television or in newspapers.

"All media outlets, including state-owned television, should be abiding by those guidelines," Mr English says.

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