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1991 - Mr Major’s Joint Statement with James Baker

Below is the text of Mr Major’s joint statement with the American Secretary of State, James Baker, held at Alconbury on Sunday 13th January 1991.


PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you all for your patience!

Could I just say that over the last hour or so Secretary Baker and I have been able to discuss a number of matters but principally, of course, the present position in the Gulf and naturally what has been happening in Vilnius over the last two days or so.

Insofar as the Gulf is concerned, we were able to review the position. We do not yet know precisely what happened with the Secretary-General's visit to Saddam Hussein - no news of that has yet come through to us - but there should be no doubt, I think, in anybody's mind that we are completely united with our Arab Allies in what needs to be done in terms of the invasion of Kuwait.

Either Saddam Hussein leaves Kuwait peacefully or at some stage - and we think earlier rather than later - it may be necessary to remove him.

Insofar as Vilnius is concerned, we regret very much what seems to have happened there over the past couple of days. For a considerable period of time, we have been delighted to see the path of reform the Soviet Union have been following - we have offered a considerable degree of support for that reform. It certainly seems to be a very dramatic, retrograde step that we have suddenly seen the use of force in Vilnius. we hope it will cease and that the Soviet Union will return to negotiations with the Baltic States and we hope that the problems of Vilnius are not going to spread. At the moment, we are waiting to see what further happens but I think that is all I would wish to say about that this evening.

SECRETARY OF STATE JAMES BAKER:

Prime Minister, thank you very much for receiving me here and I would start by apologising to you for the changes in the schedule - they were occasioned by the descending fog in Ankara that delayed first my arrival in Ankara and then my departure from Ankara.

I think the Prime Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen, has given you a very good and complete summary of our discussion over the past hour or so and I must say, as I listened to it, I found myself in absolutely total and complete agreement with his characterisation of the situation in the Gulf, his characterisation of the tragic situation in the Baltics and his characterisation of the way in which these events are now seen by the Government of the United Kingdom. They are seen in exactly the same way, if I may say so, by the Government of the United States of America, which may simply be testimony to the special relationship.


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

QUESTION:

Mr. Secretary, is it not time to go beyond "concern" on the Baltic? Thirteen people have died and tanks have rolled over civilians in Vilnius!

SECRETARY BAKER:

I think it is time that we make very clear that we are deeply disturbed by what has happened. That is what I have said earlier today: that we are deeply troubled by what has happened; that if we are going to be able to proceed on the path of cooperation - certainly if we are going to be able to proceed on the path of partnership - that there must be adherence to shared values and shared principles; there cannot be a return to the old thinking and so we really are troubled by what we see happening there.

We will continue to monitor the situation, as I have told those of you who are travelling on our aircraft, and we will have further reactions and responses as the situation develops. Let me simply say that we certainly join with the Prime Minister and hope that there will be no further resort to force, that the hopes and aspirations of the Baltic peoples will be fulfilled through negotiation and dialogue with the leadership of the Soviet Union.

QUESTION:

Any hope left at all for peace?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think there are always hopes for peace. We are still waiting to see what the outcome between Saddam Hussein and the Secretary-General may be.

Peace can be very easily had, you know. Peace can be had providing the Iraqis move out of Kuwait - that is the only impediment to peace. Providing they will do that, there can be peace immediately. It is what all of us would wish to see.

QUESTION:

How does the situation in the Baltic affect the timing of the moves of the coalition?

SECRETARY BAKER:

If I may speak to that - and then of course the Prime Minister, I would hope, would add a similar view - but it will not affect the timing of events in the Gulf and again, let me simply endorse what the Prime Minister has said about the desirability of moving sooner rather than later and the fact that, as we have said now for many weeks, January 15 is a serious deadline; it is a real deadline; it is a deadline that is embraced in a solemn United Nations Security Council Resolution adopted after extensive consultation and debate.

QUESTION:

Is the coalition ready to go war then?

SECRETARY BAKER:

The coalition of course hopes for peace as the Prime Minister has just said, and the coalition would be extremely happy if a peaceful political solution could be found that would implement the Twelve United Nations Security Council Resolutions that have been adopted.

PRIME MINISTER:

The coalition hopes for peace; it has been working for peace; but if necessary, it is prepared for war and I hope Saddam Hussein understands that.

QUESTION:

Have you been talking about a time-table, Mr. Major?

PRIME MINISTER:

We have discussed a large range of things, including what may happen in the future but I have no more to say than that.

QUESTION:

Mr. Secretary, do you envisage a pattern of aggression in the Gulf which would bring the Soviet Union and the United States into conflict?

SECRETARY BAKER:

No, I do not!