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Volume 3, Number 2              February 9 -15, 2003            Quezon City, Philippines







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Mandela: US out to get Iraq's oil resources  

By Agence France-Presse 

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JOHANNESBURG -- The sole reason for a possible US-led attack on Iraq would be to gain control of its oil resources, Nelson Mandela said Thursday, adding that President George W Bush "can't think properly".

The former South African president also attacked British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whom he said had been newly deployed as the "US foreign minister" in a criticism of London's close alliance with Washington over Iraq.

"He (Blair) is no longer prime minister of Britain," Mandela opined at the opening of a three-day International Women's Forum in Johannesburg.

"Bush is acting outside the United Nations and both he and Tony Blair are undermining the United Nations, an organization which was an idea sponsored by their predecessors."

Mandela said the "arrogant behavior" by the United States was mainly motivated by Iraq's rich oil reserves.

"Why does the United States behave so arrogantly? Their friend Israel has got weapons of mass destruction but because it's their ally they won't ask the United Nations to get rid of them.

"They just want the oil... We must expose this as much as possible," Mandela said.

"All Bush wants is Iraqi oil," Mandela said. "He is making the greatest mistake of his life by trying to cause carnage."

Mandela has consistently criticized US policies in the past year, voicing his staunch opposition against a war on Iraq, in line with more diplomatic statements issued by Pretoria.

His latest scathing attack on the two world leaders came as South African President Thabo Mbeki prepared to leave for Britain to meet with Blair at the weekend.

"Mbeki will meet with Blair in the context of the global effort to avert war with Iraq," foreign ministry spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa told Agence France-Presse on Thursday.

South Africa has repeatedly called on the United States and its British ally to resolve the Iraqi crisis through the UN Security Council.

Mbeki, who also chairs the newly formed African Union, the successor to the Organisation of African Union, will also brief Blair on the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), an economic recovery plan for the continent.

"He will brief his British counterpart about regional and continental efforts to bring about peace, security and stability as well as efforts aimed at the economic revivial of the continent through NEPAD," Mamoepa said.

NEPAD enjoys widespread support from western leaders, including Blair, but Mbeki warned this week that a war on Iraq could hamper African development.

"War would be devastating not just to Iraq but also to the whole of the Middle East and to other countries of the world ... In a situation like that, we would have to say goodbye to African development," Mbeki said.

He will depart from Britain to Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, to attend a three-day AU heads of state extraordinary summit starting next Sunday.

Mandela reiterated Mbeki's position that the United Nations should be left to deal with the Iraqi crisis, the local news agency SAPA reported.

"I will support them (the United Nations) without reservation, but what I condemn is one power with a president who can't think properly and wants to plunge the world into holocaust," he said.

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January 31, 2003

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