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Mandela: U.S. wants holocaust

Former South African president was applauded for anti-war comments
Former South African president was applauded for anti-war comments

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Former South African President Nelson Mandela blasts President Bush and the U.S. stance on Iraq. CNN's Charlayne Hunter-Gault reports. (January 30)
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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (CNN) -- Former South African president Nelson Mandela has slammed the U.S. stance on Iraq, saying that "one power with a president who has no foresight, who cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust."

Speaking at the International Women's Forum, Mandela said "if there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America."

Mandela said U.S. President George W. Bush covets the oil in Iraq "because Iraq produces 64 percent of the oil in the world. What Bush wants is to get hold of that oil." In fact Iraq contributes to only 5 percent of world oil exports.

The Bush administration is threatening military action if Iraq does not account for weapons of mass destruction and fully cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors.

Receiving applause for his comments, Mandela said Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair are "undermining" past work of the United Nations.

"They do not care. Is it because the secretary-general of the United Nations is now a black man?" said Mandela, referring to Kofi Annan, who is from Ghana.

Blair is expected to discuss the issue of Iraq when he meets with South African President Thabo Mbeki in London Saturday, a day after the British leader's meeting with Bush.

Mandela said he would support without reservation any action agreed upon by the United Nations against Iraq, which Bush and Blair say has weapons of mass destruction and is a sponsor of terror groups, including Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network. (Full story)

Nobel Peace Laureate Mandela, 84, has spoken out many times against Bush's stance, and South Africa's close ties with Libya and Cuba irked Washington during Mandela's own presidency.

In reaction to Mandela's comments, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Bush was grateful to the many European leaders who "obviously think differently."

"The president will understand there are going to be people who are more comfortable doing nothing about a growing menace that could turn into a holocaust. He respects people who differ with him. He will do what he thinks is right and necessary to protect our country," Fleischer said.

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