Press Interview With Arab Press
vision for Iraq
had hoped that military action could be avoided. There has been no rush
to conflict. Indeed, the international community has waited 12 years for
Saddam to rid himself voluntarily of his weapons of mass destruction as
he promised in 1991.
United Nations demanded Saddam disarm because of his record of reckless
aggression against neighbouring countries and because, uniquely in
modern times, he has used such weapons against both his own people and
more than a decade of Saddam's deceit and delay, the UN gave him a
'final opportunity' to disarm peacefully through Security Council
Resolution 1441 in November. Once again he refused.
choice the international community then faced was to disarm Saddam by
force and oust his regime or to back down and to leave Saddam hugely
strengthened to attack or intimidate his neighbours and to pass on these
weapons to extremist terrorist groups. I believe that history will judge
that we made the right choice.
quarrel is not with the Iraqi people but with Saddam, his sons, and his
barbarous regime which has brought misery and terror to their country. I
recognise that the Iraqi people have been the biggest victims of
Saddam's rule. This is not a war of conquest but of liberation.
we are doing all that is humanly possible to minimise civilian
casualties and finish this campaign quickly. Military conflict, sadly,
always leads to the loss of civilian lives. Mistakes will be made. But
the missile attacks on Baghdad witnessed on TV have shown the effort
taken to target Saddam's regime and apparatus of power and oppression.
are also working hard to bring immediate humanitarian aid to the Iraqi
people. The United Kingdom has so far pledged £120 million in
assistance in addition to the £100 million we have given since 1991.
We will also mobilise the international community to provide
emergency humanitarian relief.
our commitment does not end there. We are committed to working with the
UN and the whole international community to help the people of Iraq
repair the damage and destruction brought to Iraq by a quarter of a
century of Saddam's tyranny and corruption.
is a country with a rich history and culture and massive potential.
Before Saddam's shadow fell on Iraq, its economy was vibrant and
people prosperous. But Saddam's aggression, repression and misrule has
reduced the country to one in which 60% of its population are dependent
on food aid.
could have had sanctions lifted at any time by meeting his disarmament
obligations. Instead he has deliberately exploited sanctions to cause
maximum misery to the Iraqi people.
people deserve better than this. And it has the rich natural resources
to deliver a better future for them. President Bush, Prime Minister
Aznar and I have pledged Iraq's oil will be placed in a UN trust fund to
benefit the people of Iraq and renew a once great nation.
We will work towards lifting UN sanctions as soon as Iraq meets
want all Iraqis - Arab, Assyrian, Kurd, Turkoman, Sunni, Shiite,
Christian and all other groups - to share in the fruits of this new,
prosperous Iraq, united within its current borders. An Iraq free from
tyranny, fear and repression, where thousands each year are no longer
forced from their homes or imprisoned, tortured or executed. A country
where women are not raped in front of their loved ones and where people
can speak their mind without fear of having their tongues cut out.
It is this terror and poverty which has led to four million Iraqis fleeing their country. I know, having spoken to many Iraqi exiles, of their wish to return home. I share their dream of seeing an Iraq truly at peace with itself, with its neighbours, and the international community.
military forces will withdraw from Iraq as soon as practicable. We hope
to see the early establishment of a transitional civilian
administration. We will work with the international community to build
the widest possible support for the reconstruction of Iraq and the move
to representative Government.
of course, is not our only concern in the region. I share the widespread
desire for real progress on the Middle East Peace Process. President
Bush and I have committed ourselves to a fair, lasting and negotiated
settlement by 2005 to provide a viable state for the Palestinian people
and security for Israel. We will strive to see this through and help
deliver the prize of peace.
was a hard and difficult decision to take action against Saddam. We had
hoped it would not be necessary. But I genuinely believe the course we
have taken will not only make the Middle East and the wider world a
safer place but, by removing Saddam, will also be a blessing for all the
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