MONDAY 28 OCTOBER 2002
Donald Anderson, in the Chair
RT HON JACK STRAW MP, Secretary of State, MR TIM DOWSE, Head, Non-Proliferation Department, and MR PETER RICKETTS CMG, Political Director, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, examined.
(Mr Straw) The United States Government has to ask for itself, point one. Point two is that these discussions about any Security Council resolution have been in the air since the speech made by President Bush on September 12, which must now be six and a half weeks ago, although it is also true that discussions amongst the P5 as a whole did not begin until about two weeks ago. It is now important that the Security Council reaches a conclusion. I am not going to put a deadline of the end of this week or the beginning of next on it because this does not work that way. In my view what is as important as, if not slightly more important than, reaching a timely conclusion is the nature of that conclusion and if it takes an extra day or an extra two days in order to bolt down some other aspect of the resolution and by doing so we then gain a wider measure of agreement, so much the better. Of course, all the parties, particularly those in the P5, recognise that we are towards the end of the negotiations and, speaking for the British Government, I hope very much that we are able to secure the resolution which is currently agreed by the widest number of people in the Security Council.
(Mr Straw) It has been called automaticity. I do not think it is a very helpful description because none of the relevant drafts put forward at any stage has had within it any automatic trigger which moves from the resolution being agreed to military action without cause. If I can put the difficulty in a more complete way, Mr Chairman, it is this. On the one hand there are those, France and Russia particularly, who are concerned that the Security Council having in one resolution laid down the terms of the weapons inspections and what would amount to a failure by Iraq, and they are concerned that that resolution might be used in circumstances where military action, although in practice justified, to justify military action. On the other side there are the United States and the United Kingdom with, if you like, the opposite concern, which is that we could end up with a situation where the future integrity of the whole of the international system of law is at stake: military action is necessary and palpably obvious and yet one or other member of the Security Council decides to veto it. It is how you square this circle which has been the matter in discussion. It is well known that it has been our position that we would have preferred a single resolution where everything was up front from the current failures by Iraq through to prescriptions related to the inspectorates through to what would happen if those inspectors were not able to do their job properly or with one resolution. But we have also made it clear that we are ready, whilst that is a preference, to discuss a two-phase process and these discussions are now in hand.
(Mr Straw) Not before any question of military action can be considered because we do not know the full circumstances of what may happen once the inspectors go back and then the circumstances envisaged in which the whole international community believed that military action was fully justified without a necessity to return to the Security Council. In practice, however, let us be clear about this, that no single member - no two members - of the Security Council can control the agenda of the Security Council, so to a degree there has been some tilting at windmills here. However, by way of reassurance, we are happy for it to be said that matters should be able in all the circumstances to go back to the Security Council. Any member of the Security Council can have items put on the agenda of the Security Council and move resolutions. As I say, there has been this implication that somehow the US or the UK would control the agenda.. It is not the case.
(Mr Straw) I think there is now understanding amongst the P5 that if there are to be proper inspections they have to include the presidential palaces. We cannot have an obvious hole in the arrangements where "presidential palaces", which cover literally the area of Blackpool, for example, are exempt from inspection because that would be no inspection at all.
Sir John Stanley
(Mr Straw) Let me take this from the top. What would be the objective of any resolution which we hope will be agreed inside the Security Council? The objective of such a resolution would be to disarm Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi regime of its weapons of mass destruction, full stop, and not regime change per se. How could that be achieved? Hopefully by peaceful means, albeit backed by the threat of force. If, however, those means fail then a change in the regime in Iraq would almost certainly become a consequence of any military action and may be the means to the end of the objective of disarming Saddam Hussein because by that stage it would have become a self-evident truth that the existing regime was unwilling to comply with international law. Beyond that I am not going to speculate, Sir John, because the circumstances in which military action may take place cover a wide spectrum of possibilities.
(Mr Straw) I have said what I have said. What we are seeking in the United Kingdom Government is a peaceful resolution of Saddam Hussein's flagrant violation of international law, the rule of the United Nations. I hope and pray that it is possible to secure disarmament of the Iraqi regime by peaceful means and if they are disarmed then it is literally the case that the nature of that regime will have been changed, albeit that the regime itself will not have been. If those peaceful means are not possible then the message we will have received from Saddam Hussein is that his defiance is complete; he is unwilling to co-operate with the international community, and it is therefore very hard to see, short of some late conversion by him, how he could possibly assist in that disarmament.
(Mr Straw) You are asking me to prove a negative here. What we know from the previous inspection is that when there was a very deep international consensus about the imperative of Saddam Hussein accepting the weapons inspectors that led to compliance by Iraq. It also led to a flow of information which is obviously necessarily a part of any inspection process. The combination of those was that a large amount of Hussein's arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and the capability to produce them were destroyed. We also know that in the last four years since the inspectors had to leave Saddam has been rebuilding capabilities in both chemical and biological weapons and trying to build up his capability in the area of nuclear weapons. It is my belief that the tougher, more rigorous, better resourced the inspection regime the more likely the regime is to be successful.
(Mr Straw) It is learning from what happened before, not least in respect of restrictions by Saddam Hussein as to where they could or could not go or conditions that they could or could not have when they went to places. That is one of the reasons why we have been so insistent on the right of the inspectors to go anywhere, including presidential sites. Your last point was what would happen in respect of sanctions. We will have to see. The removal of sanctions is not part of any draft resolution that I have seen.
(Mr Straw) A great deal of work here is going on to make sure that the skills and numbers of people available to the inspection regime are similar to if not greater than those available to UNSCOM, and also, in respect of the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Authority will be conducting inspections alongside it. We are obviously aware of the need for high level human capability as well as other resources. Otherwise the inspections will not work out as they should do.
(Mr Straw) I did not say it was likely to happen. All I was trying to do was to explain to the Chairman why these discussions take a long time because there are fears on both sides. One can equally turn the point on its head, as I have done on many occasions when talking to my French and Russian counterparts, and say that I do not believe that the United States Government or the United Kingdom Government would participate in military action against Iraq if it were not justified. Everybody involved in these very intensive negotiations, from and including President Bush, wants to see a peaceful resolution to Saddam Hussein flagrant violation of international law if that is remotely possible. What is being teased out in these intensive discussions is the routes that events may take so that we are all clear about the likely actions we will take and positions that will be taken by the different Member States in the event, for example, that there is a violation so that we are able to square the circle or deal with these anxieties on both sides. May I say, Mr Chairman, that when I said to Mr Chidgey, I think it was, that there was not anything in the existing draft resolutions relating to sanctions, that is correct.
(Mr Straw) Mr Ricketts has reminded me that in 1284 there are provisions for the lifting of sanctions and those would still apply, but only when we have certified that Iraq is back in compliance.
(Mr Straw) There is a variety of possibilities. The inspectors will be intent on doing an extremely thorough job before they offer any certification. Their knowledge base will depend not only on what physical facilities they find but also what access they have to data, to records, and so on. They may be fortunate, they may not. I have no confidence in the Iraqi regime, let me make this plain. We would not be here if any of us had any confidence in the Iraqi regime, but I am someone who does have considerable confidence both in the IAEA and in UNMOVIC, and both Blix and ElBaradei as I speak are before the Security Council giving a presentation to them.
(Mr Straw) I agree with you. Whether that has come across fully or not is for others to judge. I can only say that in all the speeches I have ever made about this I have said that it is the authority of the UN that is at stake and I recall that at our party conference I went through all week saying that it is not the United States, it is not the United Kingdom but the United Nations authority that is at stake in this. Therefore it is not the responsibility alone of the UK or of the US but of the United Nations. That firm position must be taken in respect of Iraq and it is about the authority of the United Nations. That is why I believe that the Security Council has such a responsibility to grip this issue; it is very important that it does. It cannot dodge it. Otherwise, for sure the authority of the international order so painstakingly built up over a period of almost 60 years will be at stake with very serious consequences well beyond Iraq.
(Mr Straw) All the evidence is that he does understand when there is a clear threat of force and he is faced with the alternative. That is why he complied post the 1991 defeat. For sure, alongside complying he worked hard to destabilise the inspectors and to split the international community and he ceased fully to comply and then to comply at all at the point where he had succeeded splitting the international community to the point at which the inspectors found it impossible to do their job. I just say this to you, Mr Mackinlay. There is a reason why in the space of three days, between September 11 and September 14, the position of the Iraqi Government went through a 180 degree turn on whether to have the inspectors in. As sure as I sit here, on September 11 the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister was saying, "We will not have inspectors", and on September 14 as I was leaving New York, they said (the same people), "We will have inspectors in". Why were they saying that? Because they had suddenly digested the fact that the international community was getting extremely impatient with the excuses, lies and prevarication from the Iraqi regime and that there had to be the beginnings of compliance. Have they been told about the consequences? Yes. I know that. I have had it from people who have spoken to them.
(Mr Straw) Foreign ministers I have spoken to and heads of government have themselves been in to see Saddam Hussein and told him in words of one syllable about the consequences.
(Mr Straw) You have a point.
(Mr Straw) There is a resumed Biological Weapons Convention taking place on 11 November, Monday week, and this is a high personal priority for me. I published a Green Paper about the Biological Weapons Convention earlier in the year. There are a lot of detailed discussions going on. I am very anxious indeed to see some progress made internationally and for the gap between the various parties to be closed. We currently use a voluntary scheme. I think there are many advantages in using a voluntary scheme. If the Committee says to me, after having looked at this, "We think you ought to look at this again", then we shall do so. That is the best I can say. If this is your judgment I will certainly look at it again.
(Mr Straw) We can provide you with those but it is probably best if they are provided confidentially. Our science base here generally is very large. There are various indicators for the depth and breadth of our science base which includes a disproportionate number of citations of British papers, a disproportionate number of Nobel prizewinners in the scientific field and so on. There are many other indicators and maintaining and developing our science base is extremely important. The second point is that the boundary between some science whose application is for military purposes and some science whose application is for civilian purposes can be very blurred indeed, and this is most obvious in the area of biology and biochemistry and many other areas as well. You have got to be careful because there are issues here of the climate for scientific endeavour as well as genuine issues of academic freedom, so you have got to balance a number of factors. However, as I say, we are happy to look at this again but it is better if we brief you in confidence about all this.
(Mr Straw) If you think we ought to have a look at it, we will have a look at it.
(Mr Straw) If you had the French Foreign Minister, Dominique de Villepin, in front of you, -----
(Mr Straw) I am sure he would accept the invitation. His English is significantly better than my French, but if you had him in front of you I am sure he would say that it was the United States and the United Kingdom who were holding out against an agreement. Even my Russian counterpart would put it in similar terms. What is happening here is that there is a discussion taking place between the five members of P5. Everybody is agreed about the need to secure compliance by Saddam Hussein of the previous decisions of the Security Council. I have to say that the fact that that has now become a shared imperative represents very significant progress since President Bush's speech on September 12. So far the points of debate are on how that is to be achieved. My own sense is that the areas of difficulty between the parties are reducing. I hope that we will reduce them still further. We cannot be sure but that is the position we are in.
Sir Patrick Cormack
(Mr Straw) We do not know for certain. The group which has claimed responsibility and which was obviously immediately involved in the outrage in Moscow was of Chechen rebels, and those in Indonesia were Indonesian rebels, but both groups are known to have links with al-Qaeda. We cannot be certain at the moment about the precise nature of the links in the cases of these particular atrocities. The fact that well over 300 people have been killed and many more injured in terrorist outrages in the space of two weeks should alert us to the continuing threat that we all face from this kind of terrorism, and today we had the shooting of an American diplomat in Oman, the capital of Jordan, and I am afraid to say that the threat is going to stay. Indeed, the combination of failing states, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by rogue states and international terrorism represents the greatest strategic challenge to the civilised world at the moment and I think for at least the next two decades. We have two so-called asymmetric threats. I have made the point recently in two speeches that I have delivered that in the last year, for example, only one of 24 conflicts identified was a classic conflict between two functioning states. All the rest come within the category of these other threats: conflicts within states, conflicts based on failing states and so on, so these are the new strategic threats and the most immediate and acute threat is from international terrorism which labels itself with the face of Islam but which represents a most profound perversion of Islam and which has a fanaticism based on religious as well as political belief but often, as we saw in Afghanistan, hardened in a failing state and extremely anxious to conspire with those who have access to weapons of mass destruction.
(Mr Straw) I dealt with this rather fully in my statement but I am happy to repeat it. We certainly received no intelligence whatever which was sufficient to justify using the word "warning". As I said, what we had was this generic threat information which related to six islands and those six islands taken together cover a 100 million population and 60 per cent of all tourist destinations for western tourists in Indonesia. That was taken into account. It was received on 27 September - I am speaking from recollection but we can give you the letter if that recollection is not accurate - and I think the final threat assessment made by the Security Services and other streams of intelligence by 8 October led to a judgment which I in retrospect think was correct, that we should not change the overall threat levels for Indonesia. It is immensely difficult, Sir Patrick. If we were to react to every piece of intelligence the world would seize up. We would have done the terrorists' job for them. Bear in mind that one of the reasons why intelligence assessment takes some time is that it does not come with a certificate of truth attached to it. Even if it had that they have then got to decide on its value. Quite a lot of intelligence that is fed or picked up is deliberately the opposite of the truth. The difficulty is that we do not know until we really assess it which part is true and which is false. It is a very complex exercise.
Sir Patrick Cormack: I fully accept that. Thank you very much indeed.
(Mr Straw) We do it all the time. It is constantly updated. I was looking over the weekend at the updating of advice in other countries within South East Asia on the basis of intelligence assessments and the changes will be made public very shortly. All the time one is looking at this. Life has also to go on. Some of us here, including myself, have had direct experience of Irish terrorist outrages and we had to take precautions, but we also had to ensure that we as a society were not defeated by IRA terrorism which, it will be recalled, led to the assassination of a Conservative Member of Parliament just the other side of Bridge Street; it led to an attempt to assassinate the whole of the British Cabinet on not one but two occasions, and led to many innocent people being killed or injured. Life had to go on because if we simply decided to seize up the economy and life altogether the IRA would have won and we could not allow that to happen. That applies equally to the whole of the international community. I personally was once involved in a terrorist attack so I have some sense of what it feels like, albeit I was not badly injured. Life has to go on.
(Mr Straw) I will have to write in to the Committee but my recollection is that we could find no provenance for the first part of what was said, that there was a CIA report sent to us two days before the bombing.
(Mr Straw) No provenance for that story in The Sunday Telegraph saying that we received a report from the CIA two days before. That is my clear recollection. If I am wrong of course I will write to the Committee. There are two bases for saying that. One is that people have been through the files and had a look, but the second is this, that what is a matter of public record is that at all material times the advice given by the United States State Department in respect of Bali was the same as was given by the United Kingdom Foreign Office.
(Mr Straw) That meant that US diplomats themselves from Jakarta were on holiday in Bali at the time of the blast, at least six according to the US Ambassador in Jakarta. It is wholly improbable that had such a warning been received, leaving aside whether it had been passed on to us, the United States would not have acted on it in respect of its own diplomats, so that is why.
(Mr Straw) I have no evidence to that at all. You must not always believe what you see in newspapers.
(Mr Straw) Not even The Sunday Telegraph. I have already told the Committee, as I told the House last week, that the reference to Bali was much more generic information about a threat which we received and it came to us on 27 September and was assessed by 8 October. May I also say that this is exactly the sort of detail which will be examined by the Intelligence and Security Committee.
(Mr Straw) I have given the answer to that, which is that there was a generic threat which covered six islands.
Sir John Stanley
(Mr Straw) The Government's view is that there might be, is the answer to this.
(Mr Straw) It all depends on the circumstances at the time, Sir John, before you get too excited about my answer, and that must be the case. Colleagues will know that there are a number of bases for judgments about whether military action is or is not justified in particular circumstances, one of which is a new Security Council resolution. A second will be existing Security Council resolutions. A third will be rights either under the UN Charter or a customary international statement to use force in certain circumstances, so you have to take them all together. The final judgments will obviously be made on the basis of advice which we will receive from the law officers and which we do not disclose. Both the Prime Minister and I have said that we are obviously committed to ensuring that actions we take are consistent with our obligations in international law. There are so many possible scenarios that I do not think there is a lot of point in speculating about whether force would or would not be justified in this circumstance or that circumstance because we have not got there yet. Would we prefer there to be a resolution or resolutions from the Security Council? Yes. That is why I am devoting so much time and attention to securing exactly that end.
(Mr Straw) With respect, Sir John, I am not going to be tempted down that path of speculation. I prefer to rest on my previous answer which is that there is a wide range of circumstances. We are talking here about a range of circumstances which are not fully certain at the moment. It depends on the circumstances at the time. No decisions have been made at this stage for us to be involved in military action and I cannot say exactly what the circumstances would be.
(Mr Straw) The first thing to say about the national security strategy document is that it is a United States document; it is not ours. The second point is this, that international law, like our own common law, is not a fixed quantum. It changes as circumstances change. If what is being said is that international law has to adapt to threats that were not anticipated even ten years ago, the answer to that has to be yes. It is worth bearing in mind, and I do not know when you took evidence on this but having got into the concept of pre-emption in international law, that it arose, amusingly enough, from the British Government in The Caroline in 1837 deciding to take pre-emptive action against what we would argue was a rather difficult state which we thought was hiding what we regarded as terrorists, and the difficult state was the United States and the terrorists were Canadians. We impounded The Caroline boat and rendered it unsaleable in order to pre-empt action by these marauding bands of Canadians who had been given shelter by the United States, and that led to a protest by the United States and led them to develop the concept of international law. Circumstances have changed since then. I do not speak for a second for the United States Government; they can speak for themselves, but all I can say is that I do not find anything irrational at all about the approach of the US and their desire, which we have to share with the rest of the civilised world, to adjust their mechanisms to deal with the new threats which arose most lucidly on September 11. Had we known on September 10, for example, that the planes which had been hijacked in that way were for certain going to be used as explosives against the World Trade Center, then some difficult judgments would have had to be made about bringing those planes down, and if they had been brought down the correct judgment would have been made, horrible though that would have been. Had we known some weeks before about the possibility of this group of terrorists committing such a terrorist threat, then it would have been wise and sensible and appropriate to have taken military action against them. I read what the United States is saying as not much more than that. It is not that they are going to waste their time identifying some remote academic threat and then removing the government in the state concerned because in the real world life is not like that and governments have to prioritise their actions, but should we now be increasing our efforts against international terrorism and should we be pre-empting the sort of thing they did in Bali and the sort of thing they did in Moscow? Yes indeed. I think of the entirely reasonable demands on me in the House of Commons last Monday for information about what we knew in advance and to improve our intelligence base in the future. All of that is directed to one aim, namely, that we should develop our systems so that we are better able to pre-empt both the possibility of terrorist action and its consequences than we are at the moment.
(Mr Straw) Mr Anderson, apologies for not being tempted down the path of various scenarios. Let me be clear about the position here. We wish to see Saddam Hussein disarmed of his weapons of mass destruction. We wish to see disarmament of those weapons of mass destruction both because of the threat which they pose to his own people, to the region and to the wider international community and also because he is in flagrant defiance of the international community. We have made the world relatively safer over the last 60 years because of the relative success of our international institutions based on the United Nations, and if we want to have a safer world still in the future that system has to be upheld and enforced. That is what I am aiming for. What is the best chance of resolving the Iraqi situation peacefully? It is by preparing to take military action and certainly not speculating publicly about the circumstances in which it would be taken. That is why, I am afraid, I am not willing to be taken down that path. Saddam Hussein should be in no doubt that if he fails to comply with the rule of international law then I believe most people in the international community think that force should then be used.
(Mr Straw) I personally have not discussed this with representative of the Israeli Government. I have discussed it with others. It is perfectly possible that British diplomats have discussed it in Tel Aviv or it has been discussed at an official level. The decisions that have to be made are ones made by the Government of Israel. If Shimon Peres or the Defence Minister were on the stand here he would give you the same answer as I am about to give you, which is that I am not going to say any more and it would depend on the circumstances at the time. Every country has a right to act in self-defence under Article Fifty One of the United Nations Charter. As I say, decisions which Israel make will be a matter for Israel. Are we looking at possible consequences of military action in the region? Yes, of course.
(Mr Straw) To say we are working with exiled groups would give a wrong impression. There have I think been talks at officials level with the Iraqi opposition groups which are based here, which received information about their views, but to suggest that we are working with them would be over-egging the situation.
(Mr Straw) Yes.
(Mr Straw) I have talked a lot to people in the region about this. It was part of the agenda when I visited four of the countries in the region three weeks ago when I went to Cairo, Oman, Kuwait and Teheran. It was a matter which I discussed this morning when I met the Crown Prince of Bahrain here in London. There is a wide measure of agreement by most of Saddam's neighbours about what needs to be done, including, post-disarmament of Iraq, for Iraq's territorial integrity to be maintained. There are points of view about that and anxiety that no-one should take decisions or actions which would destabilise those borders. The borders, as you all know, were basically British inventions some 80 years ago. They do not follow every natural geographic feature in the region, it is all over the map, but they are the borders which are now internationally accepted so it would be unwise to depart from them. I think that there is such a common interest among the states bordering Iraq that first of all it is improbable that any of Iraq's neighbours would take any action to destabilise and fragment Iraq and, secondly, that it has developed in the last 80 years as a single entity, albeit with these three distinct groups, the Kurds, the Shi-ites and the Sunnis, that with proper support to a successor regime its territorial integrity would be enhanced.
(Mr Straw) Again, it is for them to say what their views rather than for me. However, you will know that Iran suffered more at the hands of Saddam Hussein than any other country. There are still every day one or two people dying from the effects of the gases of what must be 15 years ago in Iraq. There is very considerable anxiety across Iran about Saddam Hussein and his continuing to build up weapons of mass destruction, and certainly a deep desire to see measures taken to ensure Iraq's compliance with the United Nations Security Council resolutions.
(Mr Straw) I think it will improve it, is the answer. Military action against Iraq, as military action against anywhere else, has to be justified and would have to be seen to be a last resort. It comes back to the point I made much earlier, that it is fanciful to suggest that any power is going to use military force in a quixotic way and there is no evidence whatever that the United States is intending to. Indeed, President Bush has shown very great patience and caution and is concerned to ensure that there is international legitimacy and support for all the actions he is taking. If military action turns out to be necessary and it is justified, as I say, as a last resort, then I think that it could only indirectly assist the fight against terrorism because it shows the resolve of the international community.
Mr Hamilton: You do not think that a war against Iraq, even under the circumstances you describe, would fragment and push away Arab Muslim countries?
Mr Mackinlay: And destabilise it?
(Mr Straw) I personally doubt it. It is something which I discussed in confidence with many of the leaders I met. Of course, there always are, every day, people in the Arab world who wish to stir up violence against the "infidel" West, and we saw that most acutely with Osama Bin Laden. Those people exist. I am afraid they are deeply evil people with a completely perverted idea of humankind and of their own religion. I am afraid to say it has got to a pass where it is only by military action it is going to be possible to defeat them. The idea of dialogue with these people seems to me to be entirely fanciful.
(Mr Straw) Mr Chidgey, if I may, I will just park your "ifs". Of course, it is true that there will be international terrorist organisations, particularly Islamic terrorist organisations who claim Islam to themselves which seek to exploit any situation where military action is taken against an Islamic country. I have to say they sought to exploit, however, military action being taken against the Taliban in Afghanistan in order to free a Muslim country, as they did military action taken to free another Muslim country, Kuwait, in 1991 and to free Muslims in Kosovo in 1998. They will seize on all excuse or none, but the question for us has to be is the military action justified in this case? If it is justified, we will be able to justify it. I have a very, very large Muslim population myself in my own constituency. I remember the anxieties of people over Kosovo and even more so in respect of Afghanistan. Those anxieties are not there now because you can point to the fact that this military action not only was justified at the time but palpably, in retrospect, has been justified because we have freed Muslim people. What I also say to my Muslim friends is look at the record of Saddam Hussein. It happens that his is not a particularly devout regime so one should not think they are all ---
(Mr Straw) We have done a great deal. We have an Islamic Media Unit based in the Foreign Office. One of the areas of very, very great expertise in the Foreign Office (one of many) is that of its Arabists and people with intense understanding and knowledge of the Islamic and Arab world. That unit has been very useful. The kind of conversation which I had in the region three weeks ago with President Mubarak, with King Abdullah of Jordan, with the acting Prime Minister of Kuwait, the Emir ,and also in Teheran with the Foreign Minister and the President, Kharrazi and Khatami are all part of this diplomatic effort and I had a very good conversation - and I am sure he will not mind me saying this part of it - with President Khatami in Iran about his great concern to see a dialogue of nations. He calls it a "dialogue of civilisations". My only difference with him is that I call it a "dialogue of civilisation", singular, because of the important inter-relationship between Islamic traditions/civilisations and the West. We are in error if we think that these are two very separate traditions because they are much more intertwined than many people think. For sure all that is important. At the summit between times discussing le chec force Anglais (?) or even bigger chec Français (?) last Thursday and Friday, we had a very interesting discussion amongst the foreign ministers about the UNDP report which was written by some Arab experts about the relative under-development of the Arab world. That is a really interesting report. So we are looking at all of that to try and build up understanding and change within the Islamic world. That said, Mr Chidgey, I am afraid we are dealing with very mad and very bad people amongst the terrorists. We came to that stage we had with the Fascists during the Second World War - would that we got there earlier - and when you get to that stage you are dealing with people infected with hatred.
Chairman: I would like to bring in two colleagues, Mr Olner and Sir John Stanley.
(Mr Straw) We have given a good deal of support to the Musharraf Government, particularly over the last 18 months. That has included being in the lead on the EU textile agreement which has been of considerable assistance in developing the economy.
(Mr Straw) Hang on a minute. In Pakistan we have also given President Musharraf encouragement to stick to the roadmap which was laid down by the Pakistani Supreme Court and its judgment about whether the takeover of power by President Musharraf was or was not legitimate, and we applaud him for the fact that he has done so. There have been elections in Pakistan. I am told they produced an unanticipated result. That is what happens when you have elections. I do not think we should throw our hands up in horror simply because there are parties which are called "Islamic" which have been elected. There are parties in our own tradition which are called "Christian Democrats" and "Christian" where the relationship between our religion and political parties is a closer one than many of us would wish to see. My own view is that it is early days in terms of the formation of the government there and there are a number of parties. We need to watch the situation with care and to give support to democratic, secular forces there. That is what we are doing.
Sir John Stanley
(Mr Straw) What I would say on that, as I have said all the way through this evidence, is that we would prefer there to be a Security Council resolution or resolutions. We would also infinitely prefer this to be resolved by peaceful means. I know for certain that it can only be resolved by peaceful means if we are prepared, and prepared to take military action, and we do not therefore rule out the possibility of us being involved in military action, within international law, even if there is no new Security Council resolution. However, we would far prefer there to be a Security Council resolution or resolutions.
(Mr Straw) If military action is justified, then putting together a coalition would be relatively straightforward.
Chairman: Foreign Secretary, alas, time is up. The debate will continue. May I thank you and your colleagues.