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Mandelson: Bush's rants hit PM's case.

Byline: OONAGH BLACKMAN

PRESIDENT Bush's warmongering is wrecking the case for military action against Iraq, Peter Mandelson warned yesterday.

In an extraordinary attack on Dubya's style, ex-Cabinet Minister Mr Mandelson said it was hampering his ally Tony Blair.

Asked if Mr Bush's sabre-rattling was a thorn in the Premier's side, Mr Mandelson said: "I wouldn't say he was his greatest asset."

Privately, Blair aides wince whenever President Bush delivers one of his John Wayne-style speeches justifying war on Iraq. Mr Mandelson said people do not trust Mr Bush.

He said: "Whereas people are prepared to give Tony Blair the benefit of the doubt, people in Britain and Europe are less prepared to do that in the case of George Bush."

Mr Mandelson will tonight give a lecture on the severe cracks which have been exposed in the relationship between America and Europe.

There is speculation that he will return to government despite being forced out of the Cabinet twice.

And Mr Mandelson attacked France's policy on Iraq.

He said the French opposed the setting up of the original UN weapons inspection teams.

He accused the French of selling more arms to Iraq than the US or UK in the 1980s - and said Kuwait would still be "a wholly owned subsidiary of Iraq" if it had been left to the French when Saddam invaded in 1991.
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:Mar 4, 2003
Words:225
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