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Latest World News
Blair urges US, Europe to forge 'one polar power'

28.04.2003 11.23 pm

LONDON - Europe and the United States should work as "one polar power" to tackle the world's problems rather then bickering as they did over Iraq, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said in an interview published today.

Speaking to the Financial Times newspaper, Blair said the best way to stop Washington acting unilaterally was to join forces with it rather than opposing it.

"I don't want to see a situation develop again in which either Europe or America sees a huge strategic interest at stake and we are not helping each other," Blair said in what the paper described as a warning to French President Jacques Chirac.

"Some want a so-called multi-polar world where you have different centres of power, and I believe will quickly develop into rival centres of power.

"And others believe, and this is my notion, that we need one polar power which encompasses a strategic partnership between Europe and America."

"Those people who fear 'unilateralism' -- so called and in inverted commas -- in America should realise that the quickest way to get that is to set up a rival polar power to America."

France led bitter opposition to the war in Iraq while Britain was easily Washington's closest and most important ally in the toppling of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Blair strove to reconcile the differing views in the United States and Europe but ultimately failed in his bid to get a second resolution from the United Nations Security Council sanctioning the use of force in Iraq.

While Blair insisted on the need to stand side-by-side with the United States, he also stressed the importance of Europe to Britain - traditionally more sceptical about the drive towards European unity than many of its neighbours.

"To absence yourself from the main strategic alliance on your doorstep -- which is Europe - would be an act of self-mutilation as a country," he said.

Blair told the paper it was important any new government in Baghdad had international legitimacy and said he was still convinced there were banned weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, even though none has surfaced since the US-led invasion force took control of the country.

"I don't think it in the least surprising that it is going to take some time before we assemble the evidence."

The prime minister also touched on the nuclear stand-off between the West and North Korea following reports by US officials that Pyongyang had admitted having nuclear arms.

"It is not just the US and Britain that regards a nuclear capability in the hands of North Korea as a threat," he said. "I think China and South Korea would say the same.

"The question is how you deal with it. And again I think we have got to offer North Korea a way out of its present situation."

On the domestic front, Blair said he his government would not succumb to growing militancy among the country's unions - from firefighters to railway workers to teachers.

"We will not give in in any shape or form to any resurgent trade union militancy," he said. "Trade unions have really got to understand that. That is absolutely fundamental to me."



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