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Britain: Coalition Forces Must Control Iraq Looting - 2003-04-11

The British foreign aid secretary Clare Short says coalition forces must do more to control rampant looting in Iraq, while the armed forces minister says Iraq's disarmament remains the chief objective.

The head of Britain's international development department, Clare Short, says she is appalled at the level of looting across Iraq. She told British radio, coalition troops must intervene immediately.

"The occupying powers, which is the U.S., U.K. [United Kingdom] and Australia, have a duty across the country to keep order, to keep basic humanitarian services in place for civilians and to keep civil administration running," she said. "And there must be a much bigger effort to stop all this looting and violence."

British Prime Minister Tony Blair addressed the security situation in Iraq in a speech to graduating officer cadets at the Sandhurst Royal Military Academy.

"British forces as we speak now are trying to bring some peace and normality to the lives of people who have only known repression and brutality," said Mr. Blair.

The armed forces minister, Adam Ingram, told a news conference that while British troops are making progress in restoring order in southern Iraq, the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction is still the coalition's primary mission.

"The current military action is only the preliminary, enabling phase of our main objective, the disarmament of Iraq," he explained. "We are setting the preconditions for the systematic search, discovery and removal of these weapons for the long term."

Mr. Ingram also lashed out at British media coverage of the turmoil in Baghdad. He said a broadcast report had said there is more fear now in the Iraqi capital than there had been under Saddam Hussein. Mr. Ingram said that could not possibly be true, given what he described as "the brutality and repression" Iraqis suffered during Saddam Hussein's rule.