Goff dismisses claims troops sent to Iraq over Fonterra
Claims in US diplomatic cables that former Prime Minister Helen Clark sent troops to Iraq to stop Fonterra losing lucrative Oil for Food contracts are "completely false", Labour leader Phil Goff says.
The cable, released by online whistle blower WikiLeaks, said senior Ministry of Defence staff had briefed US Embassy staff in Wellington on a Cabinet meeting in which Miss Clark's government decided to send troops to Iraq.
The information said the identities of the unnamed defence staff should be "strictly protected", the Dominion Post reported yesterday
"Senior MOD officials (strictly protect) tell us it was not until Finance Minister Michael Cullen pointed out in a subsequent Cabinet meeting that New Zealand's absence from Iraq might cost NZ dairy conglomerate Fonterra the lucrative dairy supply contract it enjoyed under the United Nations Oil for Food program," the cable said.
It said the prime minister "found a face-saving compromise" by sending non-combat engineers to be embedded with British forces.
Mr Goff dismissed the claim as "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," he said.