Forget Saddam ..It's Bin Laden We Need to Sort out; SAYS BILL CLINTON: ANOTHER DAY AND ANOTHER KICKING FROM ANOTHER EX-PRESIDENT

The Mirror (London, England), September 7, 2002 | Go to article overview

Forget Saddam ..It's Bin Laden We Need to Sort out; SAYS BILL CLINTON: ANOTHER DAY AND ANOTHER KICKING FROM ANOTHER EX-PRESIDENT


Byline: JAMES HARDY, Political Editor and RICHARD WALLACE US Editor in New York

BILL Clinton has told George Bush to forget about bombing Iraq and concentrate on finding Osama bin Laden.

Mr Bush's predecessor at the White House said: "Saddam Hussein didn't kill 3,100 people on September 11. Osama bin Laden did, and as far as we know, he's still alive."

The warning was a fresh embarrassment to Premier Tony Blair, three weeks before the former president addresses the Labour conference.

It came as the 26-death bomb blast in Kabul and attempt on the life of Afghan President Hamid Karzai were blamed on al-Qaeda. Russian leader Vladimir Putin also left the Bush-Blair alliance looking even more lonely yesterday when he expressed "deep doubts" over whether force was justified. He wants a political solution pursued.

The two Western leaders were desperately trying to rally backing before the Camp David summit tonight with phone calls to China and France - permanent members of the UN Security Council with the US, Britain and Russia.

Mr Blair will say on BBC TV tomorrow that he is prepared to pay a "blood price" by sending troops to aid a US attack.

Up to 100 British and US warplanes blitzed an Iraqi airfield on Thursday in action described by a military expert as indicating "the beginning of Chapter One".

US Secretary of State Colin Powell will say in a BBC TV Breakfast with Frost interview tomorrow that Iraqi forces are significantly weaker than in the Gulf War.

He says: "I would guesstimate the Iraqi army is perhaps at one-third or a little better than one-third of its capability of 12 years ago."

Bill Clinton was talking at a Democratic fundraiser in Santa Ana, California.

He said of the al-Qaeda threat: "I believe we might do more good for American security in the short run at far less cost by beefing up our efforts in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere to flush out the entire network. …

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