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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 August, 2003, 21:08 GMT 22:08 UK
Dutch debate Iraq involvement
Jan Peter Balkenende
PM Balkenende was showed UK intelligence information

The Dutch Government has faced a grilling in parliament from opposition parties over its political support for the war in Iraq.

During the debate it emerged the UK had shared secret service documents on Iraq with the Netherlands.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair allowed his Dutch counterpart Jan Peter Balkenende to look at intelligence information on Iraq last September - on condition that he kept it to himself, the Dutch foreign affairs minister revealed during the debate.

The Netherlands did not send troops to fight in Iraq but in the light of controversy in Britain over intelligence information on Iraq, Dutch MPs are asking the government for clarification on their case for war.

The parliament debate came as Mr Blair took the witness stand at a London judicial inquiry into the death of a weapons expert at the centre of allegations the government "sexed up" a dossier on Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons.

'Misled'

Left-wing MPs want to know whether the Dutch Government based its decision to support the war on controversial intelligence reports about Iraq's alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.

"The question on which basis political support for the war was given remains unanswered. We feel misled," Harry van Bommel of the Socialist Party said during the often heated parliament debate.

But the Dutch Government says that the UN Security Council's resolution that Iraq was a threat to world peace was enough justification.

"What was a central point for us was Iraq's continued non-compliance with the disarmament obligations imposed by the United Nations Security Council resolutions," Foreign Affairs Minister Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told parliament.

During the war, the Dutch were seen as being fairly close to the US-British position.

Since the war, the government has sent some 1,000 Dutch troops to the south of Iraq under British command.




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