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Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:30 pm on 10th February 1998.

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Photo of Robin Cook Robin Cook Foreign Secretary 3:30 pm, 10th February 1998

I have sought throughout my statement to maintain a calm and measured tone. I do not think that anyone could fairly accuse it of being militarist rhetoric. We wish, if possible, to resolve the matter through diplomatic means. If we cannot, the obstacle is Saddam himself and not anyone at the Dispatch Box. On my hon. Friend's concluding point, I agree up to a point with the letter from which he quoted, although I have not had the opportunity to read it all. We want sanctions to be lifted from the Iraqi people and for them to be able to resume normal life.

The way to achieve that is perfectly plain. It is for Saddam Hussein to comply with what he himself agreed to at the time of the ceasefire. At present, an exercise is being conducted between international experts and representatives of the Iraqi Government on the technical evaluation of what has been achieved so far by UNSCOM and what has yet to be done before we can say that all the programmes have been dismantled. That was offered to the Iraqi regime as a means of meeting its desire to understand what it needs to do to have the sanctions lifted. The Iraqis now understand that, and I hope that they will comply with it.