CHICOUTIMI, Quebec - The Canadian government said on Tuesday it would not
engage in U.S.-led military action against Baghdad unless it had stronger evidence
of imminent Iraqi aggression.
Defense Minister John McCallum said the Canadian government did not have clear evidence that military action should be undertaken.
"Based on the information that we have now, everyone in this government has been saying it is unlikely that we would join an attack against Iraq," he told Reuters at a meeting of the governing Liberal Party in Chicoutimi, Quebec.
Foreign Minister Bill Graham told Reuters separately that the government was not looking at taking part in military action now.
"If there was a clear danger that Iraq was going to attack its neighbors, that it has the capacity to use weapons of mass destruction and was about to use it, clearly we would reevaluate our policy," Graham said.
"We have not been asked to take part in military action and we are certainly not contemplating that."
The minister said that it was important to work through the United Nations and to be "aggressive" in pursuing Iraq for weapons of mass destruction.
"We are telling Iraq 'you better allow inspectors in, because it is in your interest if you wish to avoid a conflict'," Graham said.
After Iraq was expelled from Kuwait in 1991, the United Nations instituted
inspections to look for nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, but Iraq has
barred the inspectors from returning since they left in 1998.
© 2002 Reuters Ltd