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What the politicians say.

Byline: Hugo Duncan

WREXHAM'S Labour AM, JOHN MAREK, has called for a halt to the bombing of Afghanistan - or risk turning Muslims throughout the world against Great Britain and the United States.

Dr Marek said that there could be no possible justification for continuing the onslaught, and that the Taliban ought to be given one more chance to hand over Osama bin Laden - the terrorist leader believed to have been behind last month's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

The next step, he said, should be to present the Taliban with firm evidence of bin Laden's involvement in the atrocities and a demand he be put on trial at the International Criminal Court.

Only if the Taliban refuse to respond should the bombing continue, said Dr Marek.

THE Labour MP for the Vale of Clwyd, CHRIS RUANE, expressed his belief that the bombing of Al Qaida and Taliban targets in Afghanistan was justified and must continue.

"We must reluctantly continue until we have reached our aim, which is to capture Osama bin Laden. To stop now would be to turn in mid-stream and would only sow confusion."

Mr Ruane sees the Al Qaida organisation's response to the bombing as further evidence that it was responsible for the atrocities of September 11.

DAVID HANSON, Labour MP for Delyn, also remains supportive of the Government. "The position of the Government is clear. There are several strands to the war against terrorism, of which military action, including bombing, is one.

"There are also humanitarian and diplomatic aspects, and all three are necessary to effect an end of the threat that terrorism imposes on the UK and the world."

A statement from MARTYN JONES, Labour MP for Clwyd South, further addressed the necessity of the humanitarian and diplomatic process. "Military action is only one component of the coalition's current strategy.

"Diplomatic efforts continue to be made to end this crisis. Also, the humanitarian aid being poured into Afghanistan is testimony to the fact that this war is not against the Afghan people but terrorists and those who support them.

"The recent threats by an Al Qaida spokesman confirm their guilt and justify the action we are currently taking."

MARK TAMI, Labour MP for Alyn and Deeside, believes the present bombing raids are the only possible course of action under the circumstances.

"I am fully supportive of the Government's action. We have to demonstrate a strength of will on this issue, and although there is clearly concern for the innocent people affected in Afghanistan by the air strikes this is a major world issue and it must be dealt with."

IAN LUCAS, Labour MP for Wrexham, is supportive of the action taken by the Government against the threat of terrorism. The action taken by the Government importantly falls within the confines of UN legislation with regard to self-defence.

"No one wants war if it can be avoided, but in this case if no action is taken then there is a continuing and immediate threat to the UK. Without the use of military force the events of September 11 would be able to recur time and again."

GARETH THOMAS, Labour MP for Clwyd West said: "I wholeheartedly support the position adopted by Tony Blair and the UK Government.

"We are working within a UN resolution which allows countries to take appropriate steps in self-defence.

"I believe that the Government are striving at a testing time to ensure a balance between the need to stand up against terrorism and state sponsored terrorism, and the need to ensure military action is targeted to avoid loss of life to civilians.

"If we don't stand up to terrorism now there may be a very heavy price to pay further down the road."

LEMBIT OPIK, Liberal Democrat MP for Montgomeryshire, stressed that only those in true charge of the facts about the success of the bombing were in a position to comment on its continuation.

"There has certainly been a positive effect. The Taliban are now trying to negotiate, which they were not before the bombing. There has been a movement in their stance "I therefore remain supportive of the coalition's actions as they try to address a very serious threat to international security."

PLAID Cymru leader IEUAN WYN JONES MP and AM for Anglesey, has called for a halt to further bombing strikes in favour of renewed efforts to find a political solution to terrorism. He is fearful of the impending humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan.

"Terrorism is evil. Plaid Cymru wants to see those responsible for the September 11 atrocity brought to justice. Any military response must be carefully targeted and aimed solely at removing the terrorists' capacity to repeat the horrifying attacks on New York and Washington.

"The current escalation in military action will bring untold misery to innocent Afghans and compound what is an already widespread belief in the Muslim world that this is an attack on the people of Afghanistan."

HYWEL WILLIAMS, Plaid Cymru MP for Caernarfon, backs calls for a halt to the bombing, stressing the need for political pressure on the Taliban.

"My party is against the continuation of the bombing and has called for it to be stopped. The time has arisen for discussion, and humanitarian aid must be a priority, particularly with the onset of winter."

ELFYN LLWYD, Plaid Cymru MP for Meironnyd Nant Conwy, reiterated what he has been saying publicly for a week, that there must be a halt in the bombing.

"There is no doubt that the perpetrators of the attacks on America must be caught and brought to book, but this must not be at the expense of innocent civilians."

GARETH JONES, Plaid Cymru AM for Conwy, doubts whether the bombing will bring about the immediate aim, which is the capture of Osama bin Laden.

"We need a higher level approach to the situation and I would be in favour of the UK and US governments returning to their initial response, which was to put political pressure on bin Laden and those that harbour him. The current situation does not do that, and continued air strikes will only make him a hero or a martyr."

MICK BATES, Liberal Democrat AM for Montgomeryshire, expressed concern over the bombing strikes, calling for a greater humanitarian effort, yet remained supportive of the Government's stance.

"It is important to take action against international terrorism. The events of September 11 were horrific and the perpetrators must be brought to justice. Any weaknesses expressed here will only give solace to international terrorists.

"However, there has to be recognition of the action of both terrorists and the UK and US. The killing of innocent civilians would make the action of our Government no better than that of the terrorists themselves."

PETER ROGERS, Welsh Conservative AM for North Wales, says that calls for an end to military action in Afghanistan are premature.

"To call for a stop to the current military action is naive and premature because it would only allow the terrorists and Taliban to re-group. Our war against the terrorists must be relentless if we are to destroy their capability to ever repeat what happened on September 11.

"It is true that there should be a concerted humanitarian aid effort, but this should not be at the expense of bringing to account those responsible for the death of thousands of innocent people."

INDEPENDENT Conservative ROD RICHARDS, AM for North Wales, is critical of those calling a halt to the air strikes.

"We must continue with the bombing until our goals are achieved. The decision was taken to bomb, and those who do not know the true success of this action are in no position to call for a halt.

"The likes of John Marek are in no position to analyse the success of the bombing and cannot possibly have the information necessarily needed to call a halt to military action."

ELEANOR BURNHAM, Liberal Democrat AM for North Wales, supports the Government in the war.

"The Lberal Democrats share the Government's resolve to destroy terrorism and we continue to support a robust and effective response to the atrocities of September 11 including the use of military force. We regret that this crisis could not have been resolved peacefully.

"It is vital, however, that civilian casualties are kept to an absolute minimum and that humanitarian aid remains a priority for the suffering people of Afghanistan, with whom we have no quarrel."

ANN JONES, Labour AM for the Vale of Clwyd, is entirely supportive of Tony Blair in the war against terrorism. "There will be no safe haven for terrorists at all.

We must continue in our fight until the terrorists have been removed. The bombing only commenced after repeated calls for the Taliban to hand over Osama bin Laden. The coalition had taken every action possible before resorting to military action against the Taliban and the terrorists it harbours."

KAREN SINCLAIR, Labour AM for Clwyd South, backs, with regret, the continued bombing of sites in Afghanistan.

"I believe that the Government's stance on Afghanistan and bin Laden has been careful and considered.

"We are trying to deal with terrorists who are entirely uncompromising in their method, and who simply refuse to come to the table."

TOM MIDDLEHURST, Labour AM for Alyn and Deeside, while supporting military action against the Taliban, wants to see the long-term issues addressed, including a greater humanitarian aid effort in Afghanistan and throughout the world.

"I am very supportive of the action taken against the Taliban and against terrorism, regrettable though it is.

We in the West cannot allow a regime such as the Taliban to harbour terrorists and continue to harbour them.

"The Prime Minister's comments about standing together against terrorism must be adhered to until our aims our achieved.

"I would welcome a corresponding war on poverty throughout the world, and it is important that, concurrent with the bombing, aid continues to be given to the Afghan people."

DELYN Labour AM ALISON HALFORD said that she had been disturbed by stories of women and children and defenceless people becoming victims of bombing in Afghanistan.

"We need to be considering just what we are achieving now by the bombing. Those who prosecute the war have actually indicated themselves that they are running out of targets."

ALUN PUGH, Labour AM for Clwyd West, supports the bombing strategy so far. He said: "Mr bin Laden doesn't distinguish between Welsh, English or American citizens.

If he had the ability to detonate a bomb in Bangor or Cardiff he would do so."

MEIRIONNYDD AM LORD DAFYDD ELIS-THOMAS refused to comment, while Conwy MP BETTY WILLIAMS, North Wales AM JANET RYDER and Caernarfon AM DAFYDD WIGLEY could not be contacted.


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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 17, 2001
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