Former foreign ministers back Iraq inquiry

Five former Dutch foreign affairs ministers support a parliamentary inquiry into events surrounding the Netherlands’ support for the Iraq war, the Volkskrant reports on Monday.

Two of the five – Ben Bot and Hans van den Broek – are Christian Democrats, like current prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende who is firmly against and inquiry, the paper says.
The former ministers made their comments during a debate organised by the newspaper on Sunday in Amsterdam.
‘I have nothing against an inquiry,’ said Bot, who was foreign minister from the end of 2003 to 2007. ‘Given the mood in society and among politicians, it is unavoidable and should happen as soon as possible. I have studied the documents and no-one should fear that something terrible will emerge.’
Balkenende has repeatedly said that Saddam Hussein had not conformed to UN resolutions and that is why Iraq was invaded. The Netherlands gave political but not military support to the US and British action.
When that decision was made, Christian Democrat Jaap de Hoop Scheffer was in charge at foreign affairs. He is now secretary general of Nato.
The Labour party was strongly in favour of an inquiry into Iraq but dropped its demand during the coalition formation process in 2007. The CDA was and still is opposed.
But in the senate (upper house of parliament) Labour and Liberal senators are angry at the inadequate replies that ministers sent to questions about events in 2003 earlier this month. Labour senators are not bound by the coalition agreement.
Those questions focus on the legal case for the American and British invasion, Dutch civil service advice and Dutch security service doubts about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
If new questions do not provide acceptable answers, a majority of senators will back the setting up of an inquiry.

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