HC Deb 24 April 1991 vol 189 cc1075-6
5. Mr. Nellist

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about recent developments in the Gulf.

Mr. Hurd

Following Iraq's formal acceptance of United Nations Security Council resolution 687, a formal ceasefire is in place in the Gulf. The resolution re-affirmed the Iraq-Kuwait border of 1963, established a compensation fund and provided for the destruction of Iraq's chemical and biological weapons and long-range missile systems. Sanctions against the import of Iraqi products will be lifted only once Iraq has completed the steps necessary for the destruction of those weapons and weapons systems and once the Security Council has approved arrangements for the compensation fund. Other trade and financial sanctions against Iraq are subject to regular review by the council. The arms embargo will remain in force indefinitely. So long as Saddam Hussein remains in power, Iraq cannot hope to return to a normal relationship with the international community.

Mr. Nellist

What assessment have the Government made of the Amnesty International report on torture in Kuwait, which says that electric shocks, knives, whips, sulphuric acid, sexual assault and threats of execution have been used by Kuwaitis on Palestinians and others? Where is the democracy and respect for human rights that the Secretary of State told the House were at the base of the reason for the Gulf war? Are the Government more concerned with Britain's share of restoration projects, including restoration of gold taps in the Emir's palace?

Mr. Hurd

In pursuit of his argument, the hon. Gentleman should not misrepresent what I said. We went to war to reverse the Iraqi aggression against Kuwait and to restore the legitimate Government. Those were the Security Council's words, that is what we set out to do, and that is what we did.

We take the Amnesty International report seriously, because it has been clear to us, and was made clear by us to Kuwaiti Ministers before the liberation, that this should be a new and hopeful chapter in the history of Kuwait. After what the Kuwaitis went through, it is understandable that there should be retaliation and disorder for a time. However, when I go to Kuwait in the next few days, I shall reinforce the message that I gave when the Government were in exile.

Mr. Budgen

On reflection, will my right hon. Friend concede that he may have been unwise last Wednesday when he said that the Government supported the Kurdish leaders' aims and objectives of autonomy within Iraq? Is not it vital to make a distinction between humanitarian aid and becoming involved in Iraq's internal politics?

Mr. Hurd

We have no desire to dictate or arrange either the map of Iraq or its constitution. The purpose of the presence of our troops in northern Iraq is, as my hon. Friend said, purely humanitarian. That does not prevent us from saying, when asked about our views, that we believe that the Kurdish people should have autonomy within the boundaries of Iraq.

Mrs. Margaret Ewing

What steps is the Secretary of State's Department taking to elicit exactly what is meant by Saddam Hussein's offer of an autonomous region for the Kurdish population? Has the Secretary of State made representations to the United Nations to ensure that the Kurds are represented at the middle east peace conference?

Mr. Hurd

I have not done that, but my hon. Friend the Minister of State has been in touch again this week with Kurdish leaders in London. I have no precise information, but I understand that some of them are holding discussions with the Iraqis. The Kurdish leaders know better than anyone else what Saddam Hussein is capable of.

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