Clinton, Blair warn Iraq of retaliation

By Sandra Sobieraj Associated Press Published:

WASHINGTON _ Speaking from the map room where predecessors plotted World War II, President Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair redoubled warnings of military retaliation against Iraq. "We will again prevail," Clinton declared Saturday.

Separately, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl lined up behind any U.S.-led military action should diplomatic efforts fail to force Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to comply with United Nations resolutions requiring him to open all potential weapons-production sites to international inspectors.

Blair, in Washington for official meetings with Clinton and Congress, said "no issue has been more pressing" in those discussions than Saddam's defiance.

"This is a man who has already compiled sufficient chemical and biological weapons to wipe out the world's population. ... He must be stopped," Blair said. If diplomacy fails "and force is the only way to get him into line, then force will be used."

It was a theme Clinton and Blair sounded throughout the prime minister's visit. Blair joined Clinton in his weekly radio address, taped Friday night in the White House Map Room before the leaders and their wives flew by helicopter to the Camp David presidential retreat in the Catoctin Mountains of Maryland.

Clinton, speaking first, noted that the Map Room was where, more than 50 years earlier, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill charted their joint strategy for victory in World War II.

"Throughout the 20th century, the alliance between the United States and Britain made all the difference between tyranny and freedom, chaos and security," Clinton said. "Now we are turning to face the challenges of a new century. And together, we will again prevail."

Both leaders pronounced U.S.-British ties unshakable. And while Clinton's last-resort plan for military strikes on Iraq is sharply opposed by Russia, France, China and other countries, Blair assured Clinton on Saturday: "I stand foursquare with you in our determination to bring Saddam into line."

Kohl, meeting with Defense Secretary William Cohen and a U.S. Senate delegation in Munich, Germany, said the United States has the "full support" of its European partners and may use German bases in any necessary military operation.

In another gesture of solidarity, eight British ground-attack and reconnaissance aircraft were to be sent to Iraq's neighboring Kuwait in the coming days.

Cohen, meanwhile, said Saturday that one of the United States' three aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf would be brought home. Pentagon officials maintain that two carriers are adequate to support a sustained bombing campaign.

"If that happens, Britain will be there, as we have been in the past," Blair said.

The taping of Saturday's five-minute radio address came near the end of Blair's four-day visit to Washington, his first since his election as prime minister last May. The Blairs flew home Saturday.

South African President Nelson Mandela is the only other foreign leader with whom Clinton has shared his weekly radio broadcast.

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