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Mandela criticizes U.S. unilateral action against Iraq

STELLENBOSCH, South Africa - Former South African President Nelson Mandela criticized the United States Tuesday for disregarding the international community as it prepares to wage war against Iraq.
Mandela, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, has repeatedly condemned U.S. behavior toward Iraq in recent months and demanded the powerful nation respect the authority of the United Nations.

"We would want to urgently appeal to the U.S. and its leadership to demonstrate their strength in the world by respect for those democratic principles they hold dear in their domestic affairs," Mandela told delegates at the African National Congress (news - web sites)' party convention.

After strong lobbying from the U.S. government, the U.N. Security Council sent weapons inspectors to Iraq to determine whether that nation has abandoned its efforts to produce biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.

As the inspectors continue their work, the United States has begun mobilizing troops in the region for possible military action against the Middle Eastern nation.

Mandela said the United States only went to the Security Council as an afterthought, but called the eventual decision to work through the United Nations "a welcome relief."

"But in even that, the world could not escape the clear impression that the USA (was) going along with a process, but that it remained intent on military action against Iraq at all costs," he said.

Mandela, who also criticized Britain's support for U.S. policy on Iraq, said he hoped the United States would refrain from unilateral action and respect the authority of the Security Council.

"The long-term peace and security of our world depend upon scrupulous adherence to the founding principles of the United Nations," he said.



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