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1991 - Mr Major’s Comments on the Gulf

Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on the Gulf, made in an interview in Riyadh on Monday 7th January 1991.


QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked whether he would delay the deadline made to Iraq].

PRIME MINISTER:

There is no question of extending the deadline, the deadline has been known for a very considerable period of time and it is now five months since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. At this very late stage, to come forward and suggest moving the deadline is clearly just a ploy. If he is concerned then the solution is in his own hands, he can do what he should have done some time ago and get out of Kuwait.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if he thought Saddam Hussein would withdraw at the last moment].

PRIME MINISTER:

I hope very much that he will withdraw, a peaceful solution to this unhappy affair would be by far the best although of course it will leave residual problems still to be solved. So I very much hope that proves to be the right judgement. But although we must hope for peace we are prepared for war and I must say the visits that I have had to the troops this afternoon have reinforced in my mind not only the state of their morale but the very substantial level of equipment that they have there.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked what had been said in his meeting with General de la Billiere].

PRIME MINISTER:

He briefed me very fully on the present state of readiness of the Armed Forces and on the plans at present as he saw them and the difficulties that he saw and we had a lengthy discussion about that and it was a very satisfactory and if I may say so a very impressive briefing indeed. He has a very high quality of staff around him and it was a very impressive occasion.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked what he would tell the troops when he saw them the following day].

PRIME MINISTER:

I will tell them firstly how proud everybody at home is of their professionalism and the way in which they are conducting themselves here. I think that is undoubtedly the case and I will happily pass that message on to the troops. I will also take the opportunity of talking to them about the principles that are at stake in Kuwait, not of course just the liberal of Kuwait, important though that is, because it is being treated appallingly, but also the wider issues that are at stake, preventing an aggressor marching into a weaker country. It is very important that they do not get away with that for if they do who knows that other small countries may have aggressive neighbours who will take advantage of them. So I will discuss with the troops that and other matters.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if war was inevitable].

PRIME MINISTER:

No, not inexorably at all. War can be stopped immediately, there is only one thing necessary to stop war and that is for Saddam Hussein to get out of Kuwait, it is in his hands, he can start moving this very evening. He has known what has been required of him for months, he knows what the deadline is, he knows the truly awesome level of power that he will have to face if he does not get out, he can get out, he should get out, and I hope he will do so.