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Gulf War

Volume 79: debated on Wednesday 22 May 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what initiatives he is considering to assist the United Nations in bringing an end to the fighting in the Gulf war.

We wish to see the earliest possible end to the conflict between Iran and Iraq. We shall, therefore, continue to support any realistic initiatives, especially through the good offices of the United Nations Secretary General. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and my right hon. and learned Friend and I were glad to be able to discuss these questions with the Arab League delegation which visited London last week.

Why do the Government not press the United Nations to institute a ban on the supply of all arms, including chemical weapons, to both sides in this horrific dispute?

As the hon. Gentleman knows, we, along with other Governments, have strongly condemned the evidence of the use of chemical weapons. The Secretary General of the United Nations has produced eight points, which are the best basis for making progress towards a comprehensive solution to the Iran-Iraq war, as opposed to other initiatives. We shall give all our support to them.

Will my hon. Friend confirm that Britain recently gave permission for the dispatch of two logistic ships to Iran? Is he aware of the allegations that one of them was instantly equipped with anti-aircraft machine guns? Can he confirm that it is still the British Government's position to maintain neutrality in this?

I can confirm that it remains firmly our position that we shall not sell defence equipment that can in any way prolong or exacerbate that war. It is true that two ships from Yarrow have been released. They cannot he used in the war between Iran and Iraq, and are principally for disaster relief. I have seen the reports to which my hon. Friend refers, but there is no evidence available to me to support them.