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1991 - Mr Major’s Statement at London Airport

Below is the text of Mr Major’s statement, made at London Airport on Wednesday 9th January 1991.


PRIME MINISTER:

I have only just heard the outcome of the talks today. Let me say I think it is extremely disappointing that no progress has been made in these talks in Geneva. Saddam Hussein has now had a considerable period of time - some months in fact - in order to reverse his aggression and to leave Kuwait. I think it is a very great shame indeed that he has chosen not to do so. The fact that he has not done so makes the position, I think, quite clear: it still is that the Security Council Resolutions are perfectly plain and they are still there for the international community to operate on.

Saddam Hussein knows very clearly and has known for some time that after 15 January the military option remains to be used if necessary. It was perfectly clear to me in my talks with our Arab Allies over the past few days in the Gulf that they remain very firmly behind those particular Resolutions.

There is, of course, still time for Saddam Hussein to rethink and to withdraw from Kuwait - I very much hope that he will be wise and that he will do so.

Thank you very much indeed!


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

QUESTION:

Given what Saddam Hussein has said lately, Prime Minister, do you not now think that war is inevitable?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, I do not think war is yet inevitable. Saddam Hussein still has time to rethink. He knows the resolution of all the Allies; he knows the force of the Security Council Resolutions; he will have heard that reinforced yet again over the last few days. I hope very much that when Tariq Aziz goes back to Baghdad and reports to Saddam Hussein, that he will realise that he cannot win a conflict and that he will withdraw. I very much hope that that is the case and I do not yet regard war as inevitable.

QUESTION:

Will this mark an end to diplomacy before the deadline?

PRIME MINISTER:

We must wait and see precisely what happens. I don't think there are negotiations to be had. That has been the position for a considerable period of time. There were no negotiations today. The position is perfectly plain and has been for a considerable period of time. Saddam Hussein has broken international law; he has invaded an innocent country; it is time for him to withdraw. The international community have set out their position perfectly clearly. I hope he will acknowledge that and I hope he will withdraw.