Parliament backs British gulf policy


LONDON -- Displaying the sort of domestic political unity the Bush administration is finding elusive in Congress, members of the British Parliament overwhelmingly expressed support yesterday for current policy in the Persian Gulf.

The majority of the opposition Labor Party, while preferring more time for sanctions to work, fell into line with the Conservative government's insistence that war must remain an active option.

Gerald Kaufman, Labor foreign affairs spokesman, said, "The overwhelming wish of the Labor Party is to use sanctions rather than force to oust Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. But Saddam Hussein must be ousted from Kuwait." He said allied strategy should not be dictated by "the compulsion of the desert timetable," or weather considerations.

But despite such misgivings, Mr. Kaufman said "without hesitation" that his party would support the government's approach to the crisis.

"I want to send a signal to Saddam Hussein that the Labor Party is unequivocal in its support of the United Nations," he said.

Menzies Campbell of the Liberal Democrats said the military option must remain available, otherwise Mr. Hussein would try to exploit apparent weakness in the alliance.

Britain has committed 30,000 air, land and sea forces to the 24-nation alliance in the Persian Gulf and faces a possible war casualty toll second only to that of the United States.

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