CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

DEFENCE – TERRORISM & SAUDI ARABIA – 18 July 2002

Dr Julian Lewis: We know that the extra chapter has been called forth by the events of 11 September. One of the most embarrassing aspects of that is the fact that the leader of al-Qaeda, many of al-Qaeda's financial resources and the majority of its personnel who committed suicide and killed so many people on 11 September come not from Afghanistan, but from Saudi Arabia. What steps is the Secretary of State able to take to ensure that we maximise co-operation with our defence counterparts in Saudi Arabia? If they are left out of the picture, all the attacks in places such as Afghanistan, and even Iraq, will surely be insufficient to our ends.

[Geoff Hoon: One of the beneficial consequences of 11 September, if I may put it that way, is the enormous improvement in co-operation right around the world, including with Saudi Arabia. As I said earlier, I have just come back from Russia. The co-operation with that country since 11 September could not have been imagined on 10 September.

That is a consequence of those appalling events that we need to continue to build on, so I can give the hon. Gentleman the assurance that we are working with Saudi Arabia and other countries that supplied nationals. We should not be too complacent: I still find it astonishing that United Kingdom citizens were involved and were prepared to go to Afghanistan and participate in terrorist operations. We simply cannot afford to point the finger at any other given country when we have similar problems.]