HC Deb 26 March 2003 vol 402 c285
Q2. Mr. Win Griffiths (Bridgend)

What plans he has to visit Iran.

The Prime Minister

I have no plans to visit Iran.

Mr. Griffiths

I am not surprised at that response. Given the Iranian Government's well-known support for terrorists, their appalling human rights record, their recently exposed nuclear weapons programme, and America's view of the country as an evil power, will my right hon. Friend visit Iran as soon as the conflict is over and use our new relationship with it to bring to an end the human rights abuses, the nuclear weapons programme and Iran's appalling support for terrorists, so that a democratic and tolerant state can be established without an American invasion?

The Prime Minister

I cannot give any commitment to visit Iran, but I would say to my hon. Friend that the UK remains committed to a policy of constructive and, where necessary, critical engagement that allows us to support the reform process there, while maintaining what is described in diplomatic terms as a robust dialogue on issues of concern. Those issues include Iranian support to terrorist groups in the context of the Israel-Palestine conflict, Iran's reported development of weapons of mass destruction, and aspects of its human rights record. I believe that there are genuine reforming elements inside Iran with which we can work, but it is important that we do so with our eyes open.

Mr. Andrew Mackay (Bracknell)

With Iranians massing across the Shatt-al-Arab waterway, and with reports that British troops are being fired on in the al-Faw peninsula, possibly by Iranian irregular militia men who have infiltrated Iraq, will the Prime Minister tell the House what orders have been given to the Royal Marines in this very dangerous situation?

The Prime Minister

The Defence Secretary has just said to me that there appears to be no substance in those reports. I think that that is the simplest answer that I can give to the right hon. Gentleman. Of course, we are watching the situation very carefully indeed, but Iran knows what the consequences of any such action against British troops would be. The messages that we have sent to the Iranian authorities have been very clear, and I believe that they will be heeded.

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