Blair hints at support for US policy on Iraq

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Indy Politics

Prime Minister Tony Blair has singled out Iraq as a threat to world stability, accusing it of accumulating weapons of mass destruction.

Blair told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. in an television interview broadcast today that he agreed with the sentiment behind US President George W. Bush's description of Iraq as belonging to an "axis of evil" with Iran and North Korea.

In a strongly worded statement on Saddam Hussein's regime, Blair said Britain was constantly monitoring Iraq but he remained circumspect about any potential action to be taken against the country.

"Saddam Hussein's regime is a regime that is deeply repressive to its people and is a real danger to the region," Blair said from London.

"Heavens above, he used chemical weapons against his own people, so it is an issue and we have got to look at it, but we will look at it in a rational and calm way, as we have for the other issues.

"The accumulation of weapons of mass destruction by Iraq poses a threat, a threat not just to the region but to the wider world, and I think George Bush was absolutely right to raise it."

A British newspaper reported Sunday that the prime minister would fly to Washington in April to talk with Bush about Iraq and the next phase of the war of terrorism.

The Observer newspaper said Blair's visit to the United States would signal British support for a US war against Iraq if Hussein does not agree to deadlines for destruction of weapons of mass destruction.

Blair's Downing Street office refused to discuss the prime minister's travel plans, which are kept private for reasons of security, but said Britain shared US concerns about Iraq's development of weapons of mass destruction.

Blair, who was due to travel to Australia later today for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, said Britain would continue to tackle the issue in a "calm and measured way."

"It is an issue that those who are engaged in spreading weapons of mass destruction are engaged in an evil trade and it is important that we make sure that we take action in respect of it," he said.