Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on the British troops in the Gulf, made on Friday 1st February 1991.
[Mr Major was asked about the impressions he formed after meeting the British troops in the gulf].
I think there were a number of things really. It was a remarkable visit and one that I am extremely glad I made. I suppose the two predominant impressions from the Gulf were firstly the sheer scale and logistics of the operation, that was very impressive indeed, when one found oneself in a helicopter above the desert for as far as you could see there was mile upon mile upon mile of tiny encampments full of activity and a tremendously long convoy on the high road heading towards Kuwait – that was a very impressive sight. And I suppose the other principal impression there was the sheer good humour and organisation of everyone who was there, it was very remarkable to see at a time of such tension.
[Mr Major was asked if he had expected a war in the Gulf]
The possibility was always there, we worked very hard indeed to try and find a peaceful solution, that was always our preferred ending. It was clearly necessary to deal with the quite unjustified invasion of Kuwait, there was never any doubt about that, but we hoped very much that it could be solved diplomatically, we tried for that, we hoped for that. There was always the residual doubt that it would not happen so I was prepared for what happened but I regret it.