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Kissinger: Mistakes were made

LONDON, England -- Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has admitted that mistakes were "quite possibly" made in the administrations in which he served.

Kissinger was responding to demands that he answer accusations relating to alleged crimes in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and South America.

His visit to London has caused controversy among civil rights groups and some left-wing MPs and his arrival was greeted by protesters.

But speaking on Wednesday to the UK's Institute of Directors annual conference at the Royal Albert Hall, he said he did not believe that courts were the right place to determine what had happened in the 1960s and 1970s.

Should a Spanish judge be able to question Henry Kissinger about Operation Condor?

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He said: "No-one can say that he served in an administration that did not make mistakes.

"The decisions made in high office are usually 51-49 decisions so it is quite possible that mistakes were made.

"The issue is whether 30 years after the event courts are the appropriate means by which determination is made."

Earlier, a Spanish judge asked U.S. authorities for permission to question Kissinger about "Operation Condor," a concerted plot by former military dictatorships in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay to persecute and eliminate their opponents during the 1970s and 1980s.

On Tuesday, Britain refused Judge Baltasar Garzon's request for permission to question Kissinger while he is in London.

Garzon has said he only wants to question Kissinger as a witness, not a suspect, as part of his investigations into "Operation Condor."

On Monday, British human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell failed in his attempt to have Kissinger arrested in Britain for alleged war crimes under the Geneva Conventions Act.

Tatchell alleged that Kissinger's direction of the Vietnam War of the 1960s and 1970s amounted to a breach of British laws requiring people of all nationalities to observe the Geneva Conventions on the conduct of war.

Kissinger said that international jurisdiction would be undermined if decisions were left to individual judges who were being given information by individual groups.

He added that it would be impossible to recall every one of the thousands of cases he dealt with every day when he was in office.

As he spoke, several hundred protesters staged a demonstration outside the venue.

They banged drums and chanted "war criminal" and "this is what democracy looks like."

A huge puppet depicting Kissinger was erected on the pavement outside the venue by several people calling themselves the Get Kissinger Group.

The group plans to hold a mock trial accusing the 78-year-old of being a war criminal because of his involvement in events in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

Kissinger was former U.S. President Richard Nixon's National Security Advisor from 1969-1973 and secretary of state between 1973-1977.


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