Iraq and Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict

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William Hague (The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)
Yes, of course we do have, going back over many decades and including now, important common interests with Iran, and that includes stability in Iraq and, indeed, in Afghanistan. There are also many other issues, such as dealing with the narcotics trade, on which Iran and the UK have common interests, and that is a very good argument for trying to advance our bilateral relations. Of course we also have to deal with the issue of Iran’s nuclear programme, which was something else I discussed with the Foreign Minister at the weekend, and there will be further negotiations this week. We also need Iran to make its contribution to stability in the region by ceasing its support for sectarian groups in other parts of the region. We look to Iran to do those things, but do we have some common interests? Yes, we do.

Menzies Campbell (North East Fife, Liberal Democrat)
My right hon. Friend will recall that I and my right hon. and hon. Friends at the time were unequivocally opposed to the military invasion. Notwithstanding that fact, I can tell him that I am sympathetic to the view that it cannot be credibly said that the invasion is the sole cause of the present situation in Iraq, although it is, I think, now generally accepted across the House that it has most certainly made a significant contribution.

May I turn, however, to the issue of Iran, properly raised by Mr Straw? There is no question but that the United States and Iran have different motives, but as the Foreign Secretary acknowledged a moment or two ago, they have common interests, so co-operation between them, even if covert, would be in the interests of us all.

William Hague (The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)
Well, of course covert co-operation is not something I will speculate about on the Floor of the House; it is not my habit to do so for very good reasons. Of course those common interests with Iran are there in respect of the stability of the entire region. That is very clear, but I stress again that Iran can do a great deal for stability across the whole of the middle east by desisting with a nuclear programme that threatens nuclear proliferation across the region and by ceasing support for sectarian or terrorist groups elsewhere. There is a heavy responsibility on Iran, as well as on all of us to do what we can to improve relations and to get that point across to Iran.

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