Saturday, October 15, 2005

Bush told Blair shortly before the invasion of Iraq that he intended to target Saudi Arabia and Pakistan

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A note of a phone conversation between Bush and Blair is quoted in the US edition of the book 'Lawless World, America and the Making and Breaking of Global Rules', by the British international lawyer Philippe Sands.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1592807,00.html

Richard Norton-Taylor, in the 15 October The Guardian , reports that George Bush told Tony Blair, shortly before the invasion of Iraq that he intended to target other countries, including Saudi Arabia, which, he implied, planned to acquire weapons of mass destruction.

According to Norton-Taylor in The Guardian:

Mr Bush said he "wanted to go beyond Iraq in dealing with WMD proliferation, mentioning in particular Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan," according to a note of a telephone conversation between the two men on January 30 2003.

The note is quoted in the US edition, published next week, of Lawless World, America and the Making and Breaking of Global Rules, by the British international lawyer Philippe Sands.

The memo was drawn up by one of the prime minister's foreign policy advisers in Downing Street and passed to the Foreign Office, according to Mr Sands.

It is not surprising that Mr Bush referred to Iran and North Korea, or even Pakistan - at the time suspected of spreading nuclear know-how, but now one of America's closest allies in the "war on terror". What is significant is the mention of Saudi Arabia.

In Washington, the neo-cons in particular were hostile to the Saudi royal family...

In September 2003, the Guardian reported that Saudi Arabia had embarked on a strategic review that included acquiring nuclear weapons.

Until then, the assumption in Washington was that Saudi Arabia was content to remain under the US nuclear umbrella despite the worsening relationship between Riyadh and Washington.

It is not clear how Mr Blair responded to Mr Bush's remarks during the telephone conversation, which took place on the eve of a trip to Washington for talks with the US president...

Mr Blair at the time was careful to avoid any suggestion that the Bush administration intended to target other countries after the invasion of Iraq. However, for the first time he suggested there were links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida...

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20051014/pl_afp/usbritainiraqsarabia

AFP reports, 14 October 2005:

The White House declined to challenge a report that President George W. Bush linked Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and worries about weapons of mass destruction in a conversation with British Prime Minister Tony Blair two months before the Iraq war.

The details of the January 30, 2003 telephone exchange were written down by Blair's private secretary at the time and are laid out in a US edition of "Lawless World," by Philippe Sands, according to The New York Times.

In one account the daily said it had reviewed, Bush told Blair he "wanted to go beyond Iraq in dealing with WMD proliferation, mentioning in particular Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea and Pakistan."

WMD is the abbreviation for "weapons of mass destruction," which is generally considered to comprise chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

Asked whether he was challenging the accuracy of the book, Bush spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters: "I don't do book reviews, and I haven't seen the book."

Prodded again on whether he was contesting the account, the spokesman replied: "No, I haven't seen the book. I can only see what I read in The New York Times."

Asked whether Bush was satisfied that his concerns about both countries had been allayed, McClellan replied: "We appreciate what they're doing in the global war on terrorism. There's more that we can all do, and we're working closely with both those countries."

Details of the January 30, 2003 conversation between Bush and Blair, the daily said, were not included in an earlier edition of Sands' book published in Britain in February.

The notes taken by Blair secretary Matthew Rycroft, marked secret and personal, were addressed to Simon McDonald, then the principal private secretary to the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, the daily said.



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