Cabinet backpeddles on Iraq remarks
UPDATED 6 October 2005, AMSTERDAM — Foreign Minister Ben Bot was not speaking on behalf of the government when he suggested the US-led invasion of Iraq was a mistake, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has said.
UPDATED 6 October 2005
AMSTERDAM — Foreign Minister Ben Bot was not speaking on behalf of the government when he suggested the US-led invasion of Iraq was a mistake, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has said.
"It is not government policy to place question marks in relation to Iraq," Balkenende told parliament in a debate on Bot's remarks on Thursday.
Balkenende said the centre-right coalition in the Netherlands was not about to alter the political support given to the invasion of Iraq.
Bot also tried to repair the damage on Thursday by saying: "even in light of what we know now, the Americans behaved correctly".
The foreign minister stunned the Dutch parliament on Wednesday afternoon when he suggested that in hindsight the invasion of Iraq was not well-advised.
Speaking in a debate about the deployment of Dutch troops overseas, Bot said continued diplomacy and pressing on with the search for weapons of mass destruction may have been wiser.
Later Bot claimed to be surprised that his comments had been misinterpreted. He also blamed the misunderstanding about the Dutch government's position on a "slip of the tongue".
"If this resulted in raising doubts than I regret this and take back what I said," Bot said in a television interview late on Wednesday.
The Netherlands gave "political but not military" support to the invasion. Dutch troops who were deployed after the war in a stabilisation capacity were withdraw earlier this year.
Bot is a member of the prime minister's Christian Democrats (CDA).
MPs attached to the CDA and Liberal party coalition parties expressed amazement at the statement. The opposition parties called on Balkenende to clarify where his government stands on the issue of the invasion.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Dutch news