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Clinton: 'Follow Blix lead' on Iraq, gain support of Europe

Clinton warned that Saddam's weapons stockpile eventually will
Clinton warned that Saddam's weapons stockpile eventually will "fall into the wrong hands."

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ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Former President Bill Clinton on Thursday said the Bush administration should not take action against Iraq without guidance from chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix and the support of Europe.

"We should let Blix lead us to come together," Clinton said, addressing members of a synagogue. "Everyone knows [Iraqi President] Saddam [Hussein] needs to disarm or get out of town ... [but] he won't do it unless the world is united."

Calling Blix a "tough, honest guy who is trying to find the truth," Clinton said the Bush administration should support the head weapons inspector.

Blix will give a progress report to the U.N. Security Council on Friday.

Clinton said any "pre-emptive strike" against Iraq by the United States should come only with the support of Europe, including NATO members France, Belgium and Germany.

The Bush administration has reacted sharply to the European trio's opposition to the use of military force and their refusal to back preliminary NATO planning for the protection of Turkey in the event of a war with Iraq.

"Europeans don't think this is important ... I believe they're wrong," said Clinton, adding that while he doesn't believe Saddam will use the chemical and biological weapons at his disposal, eventually his stockpile will "fall into the wrong hands."

According to Clinton, United States has enough military power to defeat Iraq in a short period of time, but he said a common position with Europe and the rest of the world could avert an imminent war.

"We have chance to avoid war, if the world is united," Clinton said. "The only way we can avoid the conflict is if Saddam gets out of town ... and the only way he's going to do that is if he thinks the whole world is united."

Separately, Clinton repeated his position that North Korea is the "biggest short-term threat" because of Pyongyang's highly developed nuclear weapons program.

"They can't grow food ... they only grow bombs and missiles, these are their cash crops," Clinton said half-jokingly, adding that North Korea fears ending up like East Germany and does not want to "vanish from history."

"They feel that the only way to get our attention, and the rest of the world, is to misbehave."

Clinton spoke at the Ahavath Achim Synagogue in Atlanta.


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