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PM misses valuable opportunity with Blair

29 March 2006

PM misses valuable opportunity with Blair

Prime Minister Helen Clark has let a valuable opportunity slip through her fingers by not challenging British PM Tony Blair on the war on Iraq during his visit here, Green Party Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Keith Locke says.

"Tony Blair is caught in a quagmire in Iraq and New Zealand should be helping to pull him out. By politely not mentioning what the British are doing in Iraq we could be seen to be condoning it," Mr Locke says.

"Yesterday, I presented Mr Blair with a letter from myself and other prominent peace workers in New Zealand requesting the withdrawal of British forces from Iraq. The letter expressed the view that 'presence of foreign occupying forces (including troops from Britain) is exacerbating the situation, breeding more hatred and conflict, and making it more difficult for Iraqis to achieve peace, democracy and national reconciliation'.

In her talks with Mr Blair here, our Prime Minister should represent the strong antiwar opinion in New Zealand and express our horror at the death, torture and mayhem, which is a feature of occupied Iraq.

In Australia last week, Mr Blair depicted the war on terror as a moral battle. Helen Clark should be asking him how he reconciles that stance with the memo recently leaked to the New York Times, showing that on January 31, 2003 George Bush and Tony Blair agreed to go to war even if weapons of mass destruction were not found in Iraq, with Mr Bush suggesting provoking a confrontation by painting a US surveillance plane in UN colours.

"Helen Clark should tell Mr Blair that the only moral option for Britain is to immediately withdraw from Iraq," Mr Locke says.

ENDS

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