In August 2002, Scott Ritter went to South Africa to meet with the Tariq Aziz of Iraq, Mr. Pahad, the Deputy Foreign Minister of South Africa, and the Belgium Foreign Minister. During these meetings it was agreed that Scott would go to Baghdad to address the Iraq National Assembly on September 8th, and during the presentation would discuss the return of the inspectors. South Africa and Belgium agreed to cooperate with Canada, if Canada would take the lead on the “honest broker” initiative.
Meanwhile back in Canada, I stayed in touch with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister to ensure that, at the very least, Canada would continue to support the UN and not support US unilateral actions. On two occasions in July and August of 2002, in direct phone conversations with Prime Minister Chrétien, I was assured that Canada would keep supporting the UN. On August 9th, 2002 at a meeting with Bush in Detroit, Mr. Chrétien reiterated Canada’s support for a UN resolution to the Iraq situation. At the same time I had met with Minister Graham, who also assured me that Canada would stay with a UN resolution. To this day they have maintained that position and I believe that Canadians should be very proud of these actions of our Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, in the face of the tremendous pressure from the Americans to support their unilateral actions. I was in the Canadian House of Commons on March 17th, 2003 when the Prime Minister announced that Canada would not support the US war on Iraq. This was one of the bravest things our Prime Minister has ever done.
Scott Ritter met with the Iraq National Assembly on September 8th, 2002 and told them in no uncertain words that they had to allow the inspectors to return and that there was no room for negotiations on this matter. Further, they had to advise the UN that they would accept the inspectors before the U.S. was able to get a resolution before the UN that they would not be able to deal with. Iraq accepted what Scott had to say and dispatched Foreign Minister Sabri to New York for September 14th.