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Mr. Straw: As I said in my statement, we recognise that in response to the important series of measures announced and taken by Libya, including its acceptance of proper verification and inspection, we now have corresponding responsibilities to enable Libya fully to enter the mainstream of the international community. There will be a phased programme that will, among other things, involve the lifting of sanctions and other restrictions placed on the country. That applies not only to United Nations sanctions, which were formally lifted on 12 September by resolution 1506, but to those restrictions imposed by the United Kingdom, the European Union and the United States, whose Government are properly seized of the fact that there are obligations on them.
Joan Ruddock (Lewisham, Deptford) (Lab): As someone who has long advocated unilateral steps to multilateral disarmament, may I add my congratulations to the Libyan authorities and, particularly, to the British Government for their role? Does my right hon. Friend agree that if the progress that is being made in Libya, and indeed in Iran, is to be continued and sustained, Israel too must surely be brought within the ambit of international disarmament agreements?
Mr. Straw: I thank my hon. Friend for the congratulations. As far as Israel is concerned, the UK Government have long had a policy of seeking a nuclear-free area in the whole of the middle east. The fact that efforts in which we have been heavily involved have greatly reduced the threat of unlawful weapons programmes in Iran, Libya and Iraq should provide
Mr. Clive Soley (Ealing, Acton and Shepherd's Bush) (Lab): It struck me, as I heard about this welcome agreement, that we have to deal with states in which there are individual differences. Libya was moving, and it was right that we encouraged it to continue to do so, as is the case in Iran and, possibly, Syria. The problem is with countries such as Iraq, where, in spite of numerous United Nations resolutions, there is no sign of movement whatsoever. One lesson we must learn is that the UN should not again pass resolutions without the least intention of acting on them. If there is pressure for reform and reform is taking place, we should support it. If there is none, we have to take other and firmer action.
Mr. Straw: I entirely agree with those sentiments. Active, peaceful diplomacy is always to be preferred, but it is sometimes possible only if there is the possibility of an alternative approach with a harder edge to its diplomacy. After 12 years, that was the situation and choice that we faced in Iraq. There is great food for thought for the whole international community and those committed to the United Nations in how it should change its future approach to deal with the modern threats that affect our security, which were simply absent, and therefore not considered, at the time when the UN charter was developed in the mid-1940s.
Mr. Crispin Blunt (Reigate) (Con): May I say that Mr. William Ehrman and the other Foreign Office officials who so brilliantly conducted the negotiations may not be entirely happy with the Foreign Secretary associating them with a "dossier"?
By implication, in his answer to my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram), the Foreign Secretary said that Pakistan's involvement was now the subject of verification procedures? Will there be any consequences for Pakistan if its reported involvement is verified? What assurance can the Foreign Secretary give the House that he is absolutely confident that elements of the Pakistani Administration are not continuing with proliferation?
Mr. Straw: When I used the word "dossier", it was in the French sense of an "active file". I will pass on the hon. Gentleman's compliments to my excellent team of officials. I have already replied to his question about other countries alleged to have been associated with Libya. Such matters are being carefully investigated by the IAEA, within its remit, and we will wait to see what it says.
Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow) (Lab): In the light of the fact that Mr. Eddie MacKechnie, the distinguished Glasgow solicitor and Abdelbaset al-Megrahi's lawyer, is appealing on his client's behalf through the Scottish criminal procedure in the belief that he is innocent of the Pan Am 103 crime, could my right hon. Friend ask the Libyansin the new atmosphereif Mr. al-Megrahi was guilty, what did he do, in detail, in Malta in the first three weeks of December 1988? Would my right hon. Friend accept
Mr. Straw: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for prior notice of his detailed question. As he mentioned, a further attempt at appeal is being made on behalf of Mr. al-Megrahi. Our judgment is that his trial and appeal were conducted with fairness, thoroughness and dignity under Scots law. The judges concluded that the conception, planning and execution of the bombing were of Libyan origin. The Libyan Government have subsequently accepted responsibility for the actions of their officials, in accordance with Security Council resolutions. As a result, United Nations sanctions were lifted. That is the position of the Libyan Government and it is one that we support.
Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East) (Con): Does the Foreign Secretary agree that this progressive development shows that those people who anticipated a uniting of the Arab nations against the United Kingdom as a result of military action against Iraq have been proven wrong? Does he agree that we could go further and say that despite the long-term diplomatic moves, it was firm military action that had something to do with the outcome in Libya and a possible future outcome in Iraq?
Mr. Straw: I agree with the hon. Gentleman's first point. All kinds of dire predictions were made about what would happen if military action were taken against Iraq. Although the casualty figures in Iraq for coalition forces and for Iraqis have been higher than we anticipated, the negative regional consequences have not occurred. In fact, the regional consequences have been benign. As for the effect of the military action against Iraq on the Libyan discussions, we should remember that the discussions started four years before. It will be for historians to judge the exact effect of the invasion of Iraq, but the removal of Saddam Hussein removed the threat that he posed to the region. Those unfamiliar with the Arab world do not properly understand the focus for instability that Saddam provided, and to that extent his removal helped to
Mr. Andrew Dismore (Hendon) (Lab): I welcome my right hon. Friend's statement, but the renunciation of terrorism by Libya has been met with scepticism in certain parts of my constituency, especially given that on 22 December the Libyan Prime Minister said on the "Today" programme that Libya had never supported terrorism, only freedom fightersa euphemistic term, as usualand that on 4 November Colonel Gadafi made a speech that apparently encouraged women to engage in suicide bombing. What assurances have been given by Libya, especially in the context of its support for middle-east terrorism?
Mr. Straw: My hon. Friend will be aware that many peoplesome in this country but certainly in the middle eastcontinue to draw a distinction between freedom fighters and terrorists. That distinction is not recognised by the United Nations, nor indeed by anybody in the House, but it exists and it is argued about. Libya has made considerable progress in its practical renunciation of support for terrorism. It cannot change its history, but it has clearly renounced violence, terrorism and the use of weapons of mass destruction and their proliferation. It is taking active and verifiable steps to meet its promises, and that is good progress. Of course, all of us are right to be cautious and to ensure that progress will continue in the future, but equally we must recognise our responsibilities to Libya.