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Former US President Calls Blair's Support for Iraq War a Tragedy

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has blasted outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair for his "blind support" for the war in Iraq. Mr. Carter was interviewed by the BBC. For VOA, Tom Rivers reports from London.

Asked by the BBC how he would judge Mr. Blair's support for President Bush on the Iraq war, former U.S. President and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Jimmy Carter painted an unflattering picture of a weak man.

"Abominable. Loyal. Blind. Apparently subservient. And I think that the almost undeviating support by Great Britain for the ill-advised policies of President Bush in Iraq have been a major tragedy for the world," said Mr. Carter.

In the BBC radio interview, Mr. Carter said that if Prime Minister Blair had spoken out against the 2003 invasion of Iraq, events could have unfolded differently. Former President Carter said the Bush administration often used Blair's public backing to justify its actions in Iraq.

"One of the defenses of the Bush administration in the American public and the worldwide basis, it has not been successful in my opinion, has been that, okay we must be more correct in our actions than the world thinks, because Great Britain is backing us," he added. "And so, I think the combination of Bush and Blair, giving their support to this tragedy in Iraq has strengthened the effort and has made opposition less effective and has prolonged the war and increased the tragedy that has resulted."

On Saturday, Mr. Blair returned to Iraq for his seventh and probably last visit before stepping down on June 27.

He arrived in the Green Zone just hours after yet another rocket attack.

A decision on the future of Britain's 7,000 troops in Iraq will soon fall to Gordon Brown, the Labor Party leader who will succeed Mr. Blair.

Meanwhile, speculation is rife in Britain regarding Mr. Blair's future. Britain's Daily Mail newspaper reports he is on a shortlist of possible figures who could be named president of the World Bank after Paul Wolfowitz departs next month.