Written Answers. - US Attacks on Sudan and Afghanistan.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

25 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the Government's view of the missile strikes launched by the United States against targets in Sudan and Afghanistan in August 1998; if Ireland supports calls for an international inquiry into the attack on the pharmaceutical plant in Sudan, particularly in view of increasing evidence that it was not involved in the production of chemical weapons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22049/98]

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

69 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if the Irish Government supports the call for an examination by independent United Nations experts of the site of the recently bombed factory in Khartoum which has an alleged terrorist connection. [19976/98]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 25 and 69 together.

Since last August's US missile attack on the Al Shifa chemical plant near Khartoum which coincided with a similar attack on a target in Afghanistan, there has been some questioning of the claim by the US authorities that they had acted upon the basis of evidence that the Al Shifa plant was engaged in the production of agents for chemical weapons. As part of this questioning process, the Sudanese Govermnent has made a request to the United Nations Security Council, with support from a number of other states, for an investigation. This has led to informal consultations on the possible tabling of a draft resolution requesting the UN Secretary General to dispatch a fact-finding mission to the Al Shifa site. The purpose of this mission would be to study whether the plant there was involved in the production of chemical weapon ingredients and if there were links between the plant and the Usama bin Laden terrorist network. These informal consultations are continuing.

The Government remains of the view that it is important that this issue be resolved between the United States and Sudan in accordance with the principles of the UN charter and of international justice an in a manner which will contribute to the fight against international terrorism. We therefore welcome the continuation of informal consultations between the UN Security Council, as the competent international authority, Sudan, the United States and other Governments, on this matter in accordance with these principles.