Monday, October 29, 2007

Powell surprised at Blair's closeness with Bush

Gulf Daily News

LONDON: Former US secretary of state Colin Powell expressed surprise at former British premier Tony Blair's strong support for President George W Bush over the Iraq war, according to book extracts published in the Mail yesterday.

Powell said he and Britain's former foreign secretary Jack Straw would "get (Blair) all pumped up" to talk to Bush about certain issues in the run-up to the 2003 conflict, but Blair would "lose his steam" when he saw Bush.

The comments are quoted in Blair Unbound, a new book by Anthony Seldon, a respected political commentator and biographer of Blair, which is being serialised in the newspaper.

Powell went on to express surprise at the strength of the "special relationship" between Blair and Bush over the issue.

"In the end, Blair would always support the president," he said.

"I found this very surprising. I never really understood why Blair seemed to be in such harmony with Bush.

"I thought, well, the Brits haven't been attacked on 9/11. How did he reach the point that he sees Saddam as such a threat?

The book said officials including Britain's former ambassador to Washington Sir Christopher Meyer tried to tell Blair's advisers that "what is needed is a plain-speaking conversation" over Iraq.

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