‘If that was the only issue between ourselves, other members of the Security Council and Iraq and dropping that would clinch the deal we would be willing to do so,’ a Foreign & Commonwealth Office spokesman told MEED in elaboration of the off-the-cuff remarks made by Straw. ‘But we would not drop the demand altogether. Saddam Hussein has to make some form of statement to the Iraqi people.’

The demand for a statement was one of six proposals submitted to the security council on 12 March. The proposals were to have been discussed at a council meeting starting at 2000 GMT on 13 March. It followed a report that the US administration is prepared to wait until after the European weekend for a vote on a resolution submitted by America, Britain and Spain that is widely seen as providing automatic authorisation for the use of force against Iraq.