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New revelations on invasion of Iraq: Van Bommel demands explanation

17 January 2009

New revelations on invasion of Iraq: Van Bommel demands explanation

SP Foreign Affairs specialist Harry van Bommel wants the government to comment on the report in the leading Dutch daily NRC-Handelsblad that a meeting of top foreign affairs officials in April 2003 deliberately withheld from the Foreign Minister a legal advice note critical of the Netherlands' political support for the war on Iraq. In the note, leading civil servants argue that the government's standpoint is wrong-headed. “At the Ministry of Defence there were serious doubts about the lawfulness of the invasion of Iraq,” said Van Bommel. “The Foreign Minister always spoke out against such doubts. This revelation underlines the need for a parliamentary enquiry. No stone should be left unturned.”

Harry van Bommel According to the official memorandum acquired by NRC-Handelsblad, the Netherlands' standpoint put the government at risk of being prosecuted by the International Court of Justice. The most senior official involved suppressed the advice note with the words “file away for posterity in the archives.” As Van Bommel sees it, “the minister has a problem, one way or another. Either his highest official has kept an important advice note from him, or he knew about it but decided to ignore it.”

Van Bommel has put a series of parliamentary questions to the minister in an attempt to find out which of these explanations comes closest to the truth.

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