Balkenende won’t follow Bush on Iraq

Prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende has refused to echo US president Geeorge Bush who said last week that he ‘regretted’ the fact that incorrect information was published in 2003 about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, reports the NRC.

This information was used to justify the US-led invasion of Iraq.
Balkenende was challenged to make a similar statement in parliament by the Socialist Party leader Agnes Kant on Tuesday. But the Dutch prime minister would go not further than to state: ‘I have noted what Bush said.’
Balkenende repeated his standpoint that the Netherlands had given political support to the invasion of Iraq because the country’s leader at the time, Saddam Hussein, had refused to comply with United Nation resolutions. The Dutch decision was therefore not based directly on the presence or otherwise of weapons of mass destruction, reports the NRC.
The prime minister said that it is not possible to repeat the discussion which took place at the time with the knowledge available now.
Balkenende has resolutely refused to investigate the circumstances surrounding the Dutch decision to support the invasion of Iraq for many years although such inquiries have been held in other countries.
Earlier this year the upper house of parliament asked a number of detailed questions about the position of the Netherlands at the outbreak of the war with Iraq. The cabinet has promised to reply to these before the Christmas break.

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