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1991 - Mr Major’s Joint Doorstep Interview with Vice-President Quayle

Below is Mr Major's joint press statement with United States Vice-President Dan Quayle, held in London on Thursday 31st January 1991.


PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you all very much for waiting. I am sorry we have kept you waiting so long. The Vice-President and I have been able to talk for a little over an hour, predominantly about the Gulf of course, but also about other matters,

I think we are both pretty satisfied with the way things are going so far. A fortnight into the conflict, I think there is absolutely no doubt about the remarkable extent of cooperation between the United States. the British and indeed the other allies and we are all extremely pleased about that. And there was particular pleasure I think over here at the President's State of the Union Address and his very generous words about the activities of the RAF and we were all very pleased to hear that.

The Vice-President has had a successful day here I think and has visited Lakenheath and elsewhere and I might invite him to say something about his trip.

MR QUAYLE:

Thank you very much Mr Prime Minister. Let me once again just reaffirm the positive, strong cooperation that we have had between the United States and the United Kingdom. It was reaffirmed again today at Lakenheath where I visited with the spouses of a number of the troops from the United States and the United Kingdom that are deployed in the Persian Gulf.

I enjoyed the conversation with the Prime Minister immensely, we value and respect his judgment and opinions on world affairs. We do have and continue the special relationship with the United Kingdom and I am delighted to be back once again to pay my respects to an outstanding and remarkable Prime Minister.


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, can you indicate for how long you can resist being provoked into a wider scale land war?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think we will have to see what happens out there. I think as you know in Khafji the Saudis are now examining the houses one by one, there is a house search going on to find out whether any Iraqis are there. There was an incursion, as you know, into Khafji by the Iraqis, it may well be that they will do the same thing again and that there will be other incursions of that sort, but we will deal with those as they arise. But the general strategy of the campaign has been pretty clear, it is pretty clear what we propose to do in future and we will stick to that.

QUESTION:

Vice-President, now that the difficult stage of the conflict has been entered with mounting ground casualties, how worried are you that American public opinion will stay behind supporting the war if casualties do mount, as they appear to be?

MR QUAYLE:

There is strong and overwhelming support for President George Bush and our policy in the Persian Gulf. The American people, perhaps contrary to international public opinion, have a great deal of patience. They support this President, they support the policy in the Persian Gulf, they support the allied effort to get Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. We are in no hurry to engage in a ground campaign. The air campaign is going quite well and you can judge by the results that we have been successful, we have a strategy that the Prime Minister understands and knows quite well and that strategy is now being deployed, and I might say that that strategy is working.

QUESTION:

Can I ask you both what lessons you have drawn from the Iraqi incursion into Khafji about the fighting spirit of their soldiers and what it would mean for a land campaign?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think the first thing to say is they have clearly lost at Khafji, have they not? There was an incursion there, the Saudi, Qatari and the American troops there have driven them out. The Iraqi losses have been quite heavy and they are no longer there. So whatever one may learn about the Iraqis, one has learned a little more and that is that the Iraqis will be beaten and that I think is the lesson we were sure was there for them and it has certainly been reinforced by what has happened at Khafji over the last 36 hours or so. And I suspect if there any more incursions the same lesson will be learned again.

MR QUAYLE:

I would just reaffirm the fact and that is that we have been successful. Perhaps Saddam Hussein would like to commence the ground war because he has been so unsuccessful in getting any of his air assets deployed, about the only place that they are deployed right now is in Iran. They are certainly unable to have any access to the airways, we have air supremacy, that is a fact and it is a very important military fact.

QUESTION (JOHN DRAPER, ITN):

Can you explain what would be the role of the B52s due to be deployed in Great Britain?

MR QUAYLE:

I am not going to get into the actual military operations, but we are very appreciative of the continued cooperation of the United Kingdom on this and everything else, but I am not going to get into its role and mission and things of that sort.

QUESTION:

Perhaps Mr Major might?

PRIME MINISTER:

The B52s will be used as the Commanders wish them to be used and that is true of all the other aircraft in the conflict.

QUESTION:

Will they be armed with nuclear weapons?

PRIME MINISTER:

No they are not going to be armed with nuclear weapons.

QUESTION (CNN):

Mr Vice President, earlier today you were quoted as saying either we will continue to have Saddam or we will achieve peace. Does that mean to achieve peace Mr Saddam has to be ousted?

MR QUAYLE:

Has to be ousted from Kuwait, absolutely, and he is going to be ousted from Kuwait.

QUESTION:

From power though, will he have to be ousted from power?

MR QUAYLE:

I did not say ousted from power I said that he will be ousted from Kuwait, and he will be ousted from Kuwait, that is the objective and we will achieve that objective.