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Labour's Fence Sitting Increasingly Painful

Labour's Fence Sitting Will Become Increasingly Painful

ACT New Zealand Deputy Leader is calling on Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff to confirm one way or the other whether his Labour Government is prepared to offer humanitarian aid in the post-conflict reconstruction of Iraq if that programme is led by the United States, and not under the auspices of the United Nations.

"Today in the House the Minister studiously avoided my question on this issue.

"This is no longer hypothetical - United States Secretary of State Colin Powell stated today that the United States will not leave control of Iraq to the United Nations when it overthrows Saddam Hussein's regime.

"Colin Powell anticipates elements within the United Nations - those supported by New Zealand - will claim the invasion was illegal and the United Nations must not endorse it retroactively.

"Having turned our backs on our traditional allies by refusing to join the Coalition of the Willing, it seems likely that New Zealand will now not even be prepared to provide humanitarian aid when our allies embark on post conflict reconstruction.

"ACT New Zealand wrote to Helen Clark today to urge her to authorise an elite Navy team to assist in the discovery and removal of mines around the port of Umm Qasr. This will speed the way for humanitarian aid to reach the people of Iraq.

"New Zealanders have a right to know where our Government stands on this issue. The Government's fence-sitting will become increasingly painful," Mr Shirley said.

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