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Panama

Volume 164: debated on Monday 8 January 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if any humanitarian assistance has been offered to authorities in Panama following the invasion of that country by United States forces.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions have taken place with European Economic Community governments since the United States of America invasion of Panama; and if he will make a statement.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reasons were given by the President of the United States of America for the invasion of Panama when he sought endorsement for his actions from Her Majesty's Government.

President Bush has stated that the United States military intervention in Panama had four objectives: to safeguard the lives of American citizens, to help restore democracy, to protect the integrity of the Panama canal treaties, and to bring General Noriega to justice.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps were taken by Her Majesty's Government to establish the legality of the United States invasion of Panama before endorsement of such action was given.

The American action was undertaken with the agreement of the leaders who clearly won the elections held last May. We had no hesitation in welcoming the establishment of democratic government in Panama and giving full support to the action that led to this. General Noriega's arbitrary rule was maintained by force. There can be no suggestion that he represented legality.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when a British Minister last visited Panama.

My noble Friend Baroness Young, the then Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, visited Panama in November 1983.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which European Economic Community countries, other than the United Kingdom, have expressed official support for the United States invasion of Panama; which of them have recognised the regime of Mr. Guillermo Endara; and if he will make a statement.

Several EC member states made statements on 20 December. Italy, Germany and the Netherlands expressed understanding of the United States action. EC Foreign Ministers issued a joint statement on 22 December. It is the practice of the United Kingdom and other EC countries to recognise states rather than Governments, so the question of formal recognition does not arise. Heads of mission of the five EC member states with resident representation in Panama—United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain—called on Sr. Linares, the Foreign Minister of President Endara's new Government, on 4 January.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs why the United Kingdom exercised a veto in the United Nations Security Council on the motion condemning the United States invasion of Panama; and if he will list each occasion in the past three years when Her Majesty's Government's representative at the United Nations has exercised a veto.

Together with the United States and France, we exercised our veto on the draft resolution on the situation in Panama because it was seriously unbalanced. Canada also voted against. Finland abstained.The United Kingdom has exercised a veto in the United Nations Security Council on four other occasions since January 1987:

Date
20 February 1987South Africa
9 April 1987Question of Namibia
8 March 1988Sanctions against South Africa
11 January 1989Shooting down of Libyan jet