Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:29 pm on 17th December 1998.

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Photo of Robin Cook Robin Cook Foreign Secretary 4:29 pm, 17th December 1998

Given the gravity of this international crisis, it is unfortunate that the hon. Gentleman should trot out his own King Charles's head on Europe—[Interruption.] If hon. Members will listen, they will hear that many European countries have backed what we have said. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer the question."] I am going to answer the hon. Gentleman, and I hope that he will listen.

The Prime Minister of France has made it clear that the action was provoked by the steps taken by Saddam Hussein. Compared with the position that France took on the previous crisis, on this occasion, France has shown restraint. It has not wished to get involved in open hostility to the action that we have taken. Earlier today, I had a successful conversation with the French Foreign Minister, in which we agreed to work together in the future, particularly in relation to Iraq.

Chancellor SchrOder's spokesman said: The Iraqi leadership was warned and had to assume that the international community could not stand by and watch. This morning, the Austrian Foreign Minister, who currently holds the European Union presidency, said: We must make Saddam Hussein fully responsible for this". He recognised that the Iraqi leadership had been given ample opportunity.

The Foreign Minister of the Netherlands described our actions as "unavoidable". The Spanish Defence Minister described military action as "inevitable". The Finnish Prime Minister said: We are involved in this together—the United Nations versus Iraq.