Fonterra-troops claim 'preposterous' - Helen Clark
Former Prime Minister Helen Clark has angrily denied a claim in a United States diplomatic cable that the previous Labour-led Government sent New Zealand non-combat engineers to Iraq so that dairy company Fonterra could secure a United Nations contract.
She described the claim as preposterous.
In one of the cables released by Wikileaks a senior staff member at the Defence Ministry reportedly told the US Embassy that Miss Clark had decided to send soldiers to Iraq to stop Fonterra losing lucrative United Nations Oil for Food contracts.
The embassy did not name the defence staffer who provided the information on the Cabinet meeting in which the Labour Government discussed sending personnel to Iraq.
"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.