Written Answers. - Middle East Peace Process.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

41 Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if the Government supports the US position in relation to Iraq and the elimination of Saddam Hussein; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14806/02]

There have been no further indications of imminent military action since I answered a similar question from the Deputy in March. In the meantime, the UN Security Council has implemented Resolution 1409 which places the economic sanctions against Iraq on a new basis and which should result in a major improvement in the living conditions of the Iraqi people.

The aim of the international community is to bring about the implementation of Security Council resolutions by Iraq, thus safeguarding peace and stability in the region and leading to the suspension and ultimate lifting of sanctions. The Government believe that diplomatic options have not yet been exhausted and would be seriously concerned at the use of military force. Primary responsibility for resolving international crises rests with the United Nations and in this regard we have welcomed the talks that Secretary-General Annan has held with the Foreign Minister of Iraq this year and expressed the hope that forthcoming rounds will be substantive and productive. The Government continues to believe that multilateral co-operation in the UN on the application of sanctions remains the best approach in tackling the threat from Iraq. Ireland will continue its 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.