Friday, October 14, 2005

Straw Warned Against Sending Troops into Iran

Islamic Republic News Agency:
Britain's main opposition Conservative Party Thursday challenged Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to clarify whether he had authorized UK troops in Iraq to cross the border into Iran [...].

"Sending our Armed Forces across an international border clearly is a major political decision, with profound implications for Britain's international relations," shadow Foreign Secretary Liam Fox said.

"It is inconceivable that military commanders would permit their troops to cross an international border without explicit political authorization to do so. That clearly would be a decision solely for your Government," he said in a letter to Straw. READ MORE

Fox, who is a candidate to be the next Tory leader, said that he was "shocked and disturbed" at the Foreign Secretary telling the BBC's Newsnight on Wednesday that it was "not for him to speculate" when asked if British troops would be allowed to `cross into Iran.' Straw was being challenged about what Britain would do in response to its own unsubstantiated allegations of Iranian involvement in the killing of UK troops.

"In view of recent events, you must tell the British people whether political authorization has been given for our troops to cross the border into Iran?" the shadow Foreign Secretary said in his letter, published by the Conservative Party.

"If so, when was it given? If not, why did the Foreign Secretary suggest it was a matter of `tactics'? Above all, our Armed Forces should expect nothing less than absolute clarity from the Government over how they should act," he said.

Fox's warning came as Defence Secretary John Reid stepped up the war of words with Iran, asserting the country could be playing "a risky game" by getting involved in Iraq, even though he repeated there was no conclusive proof.

"We believe that there are elements of Iranian society - I put it no higher than that - who may well be associated with the attacks on British troops," he said despite his warning.

Reid made no mention of British troops invading Iran but insisted "It was not acceptable. It is not something we can tolerate." "British troops will do everything necessary to defend themselves.

Anyone who is involved in this sort of thing is involved in a risky game," he said.