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Troops-for-trade allegations complete fiction

Phil Goff
Leader of the Labour Party

21 December 2010 Media Statement
Troops-for-trade allegations complete fiction

Labour Leader Phil Goff utterly rejects claims that the previous Labour-led Government sent non-combat engineers to Iraq so that Fonterra could secure a United Nations contract.

“The idea is ridiculous. No such trade-off was ever suggested and if it ever had been, it would have been rejected out-of-hand. We do not trade putting the lives of our military personnel at risk for commercial deals. It is a completely false claim,” said Phil Goff.

The Labour leader has spoken to former Prime Minister Helen Clark about the allegation made in a US diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks.

“Helen Clark is equally adamant that those claims are a work of fiction. The idea that we would send army engineers to Basra after Michael Cullen purportedly stated at the Cabinet that our stand on Iraq would cost Fonterra is totally false. No such statement was ever made nor was there ever a discussion to that effect.

“The engineers were sent when the UN Security Council provided a mandate for countries that were not part of the invasion to assist.

“Labour was opposed to the invasion of Iraq and history has proven that our decision was the right one. John Key, by comparison, had wanted to send to troops to Iraq.

“The decision to later send engineers was made after an invitation from the UN Security Council. The US embassy official who wrote this cable was clearly completely out of touch.”

ENDS

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