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1996 - Mr Major’s Comments on Zaire

Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on Zaire, made in an interview held in Bordeaux on Friday 8th November 1996.


QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked about the current situation in Zaire and what was needed].

PRIME MINISTER:

I think we have to discuss with a wide range of countries precisely what's needed. It's going to the United Nations, that's clearly the right forum for discussing it. That help is needed in Zaire I think is beyond question, I don't think anyone doubts that, the humanitarian problem is self-evident and very serious. What the right solution is requires a bit more discussion.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if British troops would be sent to Zaire].

PRIME MINISTER:

There are many areas and ways in which people can help. Nobody quite knows yet what the troops are going to do, are they going to open the corridor? Are they  going to be there simply as a broad and friendly presence? Mrs Ogata [Sadako Ogata], the High Commissioner for Refugees, has put forward one plan, others have put forward other plans, they need to be discussed.

We need to know whether the host Governments would welcome them. We need to know whether the Governments in the region would accept them. We need to know whether there will be an African presence amongst the troops. We would need to know what the mission of the troops would be. They're all matters which are vital to the decision, and there's been no discussion about those matters yet.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked whether France would be the only country sending troops].

PRIME MINISTER:

They're plainly not going to be, because they've said they won't send any troops unless the United States do. They've agreed therefore that it needs to be discussed in international forums, and plainly that is going to be the United Nations.