HC Deb 12 February 1997 vol 290 cc325-6
5. Mrs. Clwyd

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on peace negotiations in northern Iraq. [13958]

Mr. Hanley

Our objective in northern Iraq is peace and the well being of the people there. With the United States of America and Turkey we established and have consolidated a ceasefire between the Kurdish Democratic party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. We continue to be involved in discussions to help them resolve their differences and we are making encouraging progress.

Mrs. Clwyd

Does the Minister agree that part of any peace process must include bringing those responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide to justice? Will he therefore add his support to the campaign "Indict" launched in the House of Commons with all-party support and the support of the Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and the leader of the Liberal Democrats to bring Saddam Hussein and his closest supporters in the current regime in Iraq before an international tribunal to answer for their crimes?

Mr. Hanley

I must pay tribute to the hon. Lady, because I believe that nobody in the House has studied the matter more assiduously or shown such great courage by visiting the area in northern Iraq where the Kurds are at the moment. I assure her that we share the objective of wanting those responsible for the appalling atrocities that she has described, especially Saddam Hussein, to be brought to justice. They deserve the widespread condemnation that they have received from the international community and the House. We are open to suggestions on how to bring those responsible to justice; it is not of course easy. We doubt that the process that led to the Yugoslavian tribunal can be duplicated for Iraq. The circumstances are different, not least because of the passage of time since the events in question.

Mr. John Marshall

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the fact that Saddam Hussein denies democracy to his people, and is the biggest threat to peace in the middle east, emphasises the need for the strongest possible sanctions against Iraq? Can my right hon. Friend guarantee that our European friends follow such a policy?

Mr. Hanley

My hon. Friend is right. The recent acceptance of United Nations Security Council resolution 986 will not mean the lifting of sanctions. It is a humanitarian gesture to allow the people of Iraq, with whom we have no argument, to be fed and to receive medical assistance. It is vital that the people of Iraq are fed, because they have been starved and deprived of medical assistance by Saddam Hussein for too long. There are no grounds for relaxing any of the sanctions, given Saddam Hussein's refusal to respect the relevant UN resolutions.

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