» Tuesday, January 9, 2007


Asked if we could expect anything on Wednesday after President Bush’s speech on Iraq, the PMOS replied that as he had said this morning, the US would decide what they would decide, and would announce accordingly. As we had said when we were in Basra, people should not confuse the situation in Baghdad with the situation in Basra, as they were two separate situations on the ground. In Basra, there was Operation Sinbad, and that was halfway through. There was a situation where the Iraqis were increasingly in control of more and more of the city, and there was a situation where sectarian violence was not of the same scale of problems as it was in Baghdad. Therefore, what the Americans would announce about Baghdad would be in relation to the situation on the ground there, and what we decided to do in Basra would be to do with Basra. The two were separate.

In answer to questions about why had the Prime Minister not put more suggestions to the Iraqi Government about the execution of Saddam Hussein, the PMOS answered it was because the Prime Minister respected the sovereignity of the Iraqi Government. There was a democratically elected Iraqi Government that could have changed Iraq’s policy on the death penalty had it wished to do so, but it did not.

Asked why there had been no public statement from Downing Street, the PMOS asked people to could imagine the reaction if we had told the Iraqi Government that it could not decide its position on the death penalty. The PMOS said that he could write the headline.

Asked if the Prime Minister thought that the way in which Saddam was executed would turn him into a martyr, the PMOS replied that what the Prime Minister thought was that first of all, he was opposed to the death penalty. Secondly, Iraq was a sovereign country. Thirdly, something clearly went wrong, and therefore, the Iraqi Government was right to carry out an investigation.

Put that other governments, for example Jamaica, had had executions halted many times, so what was the difference, the PMOS said that the Jamaican government would probably not say that we had dictated to them. Iraq was a sovereign Government, and therefore, could take advice, or ignore advice, as that was its right.

Asked if advice had been given, the PMOS replied that we had clearly expressed our view in a way that was appropriate on the death penalty. It was not a secret in the international community that we opposed the death penalty.

Briefing took place at 15:00 | Search for related news

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