Former New Zealand PM denies Iraq troops-for-contracts claim


AFP
December 21, 2010

WELLINGTON — Former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark on Wednesday denied sending non-combat troops to Iraq in 2003 to ensure one of her country’s largest companies retained lucrative UN contracts.

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A US diplomatic cable released by the WikiLeaks website this week reportedly cited New Zealand defence officials saying Clark opposed the Iraq deployment until she was told dairy giant Fonterra might lose UN “oil-for-food” contracts.

Clark, whose left-leaning Labour government was defeated in 2008 and who now heads the UN Development Programme, told Radio NZ she was “flabbergasted” at the “ridiculous” claim.

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“I am absolutely incensed at the suggestion that some defence ministry personnel seem to have made to various diplomats that there was any connection between my support for sending engineers to do humanitarian work in Iraq with the interests of Fonterra,” she said.

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