Blair to use summit to lobby for war on Iraq

A A A

Tony Blair plans to use the margins of the Johannesburg earth summit to rally support for US President George Bush's increasingly unpopular war on terrorism. As dissent grows over Mr Blair's backing for a US-led attack on Iraq, the Prime Minister is determined to shore up allies.

But even within the US, there are increasing doubts. Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state and foreign policy guru, and Brent Scowcroft, President George Bush senior's former national security adviser, have both expressed their disquiet.

On Friday the President said he was aware "some very intelligent people" were expressing opinions, and that he was listening to the debate. But he added: "I'll be making up my mind based upon the latest intelligence, and how best to protect our own country plus our friends and allies."

It is not yet decided whom the Prime Minister will meet in South Africa, but sources said he was sure to speak to as many leaders as possible, and Iraq would be on the agenda.

The summit will follow a diplomatic drive by Mr Blair that has already seen him break his holiday to hold informal talks with his French counterpart, Jean-Pierre Raffarin. He also plans to meet King Faud of Saudi Arabia to try to reassure him about the stance of the US and Britain towards Iraq.

Mr Blair is also under pressure at home. Robin Cook, the Leader of the House, has been asked by Labour backbench dissidents to be a voice against the war in Cabinet. And the anti-war movement in and out of Parliament is gathering momentum.

The Prime Minister has also been criticised by the Tories for failing to condemn the decision of African nations to nominate Libya to chair the UNHCR.

In a letter to Clare Short, the International Development Secretary, her opposite number, Caroline Spelman, called for reform of the human rights commission and for the UK to "show leadership in preventing the UN Human Rights Commission falling into the hands of serious human rights abusers". Ms Spelman said that progress on human rights should not be sacrificed in the name of better relations with Colonel Gadaffi.

Human Rights Watch has also condemned the decision, claiming it was a "real setback" to put a country with a poor human rights record in charge of the commission.

But the Foreign Office said last night: "Regardless of nationality the role of the chair is specific. The UK is committed to protecting human rights worldwide.''

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

KS1 Teacher

£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...

HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000 plus benefits

£32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

Foundation Primary Teacher

£100 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: We are looking for Founda...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?