Written Answers. - Foreign Conflicts.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

48 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he or his officials have been briefed on a possible military strike against Iraq; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3750/02]

Recent statements by President Bush and senior figures in his administration have expressed legitimate concern at Iraq's continuing failure to co-operate with the UN disarmament mission and the threat posed by Iraqi efforts to develop chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction. The US Administration has indicated that it is reviewing its policy on Iraq but that, at present, its efforts will continue to be focused on achieving agreement in the Security Council on reform of sanctions and for the return of the UN arms inspectors.

There are no indications from our contacts with the US Administration or from discussions between the EU and USA on the subject of Iraq that the USA is considering military action in the immediate future. The USA is well aware of the particular sensitivities which would arise, not least in the Arab world, if it were to take unilateral military action against Iraq without clear evidence linking the regime of Saddam Hussein with terrorism. Ireland will continue to work with our EU partners and with others in the international community in an effort to ensure that any tensions are resolved without recourse to military action.

Question No. 49 answered with Question No. 37.