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Archbishop Tutu Condemns Iraq War, Urges Bush, Blair Apologize - 2004-02-16

Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa is condemning the Iraq war as "immoral," and he says U.S. President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair should apologize for the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Archbishop Tutu is issuing his condemnation in a speech he prepared for delivery in London. Excerpts from the speech appeared in early editions of London's Independent newspaper, which is sponsoring the Tutu lecture.

Archbishop Tutu says the Iraq invasion was based on what he calls "dangerously flawed" intelligence, a reference to pre-war estimates that Saddam Hussein possessed and was ready to use mass destruction weapons. Arms inspectors in Iraq have so far failed to find evidence to back up those claims.

According to the excerpts of the Tutu speech, the South African cleric calls the Iraq invasion, "an immoral war." He says the war has made the world less safe. And he says President Bush and Prime Minister Blair should apologize and recognize mistakes were made if they want to regain credibility.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Blair's office said the government would wait to hear what Archbishop Tutu says before responding.

In earlier comments on Iraq, Archbishop Tutu has said Saddam Hussein should be brought before an international tribunal. He said the Iraqi leader, who was captured in December, should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Archbishop Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 in recognition of his non-violent opposition to apartheid in South Africa. The 72-year-old cleric is now living temporarily in London as a visiting professor in post-conflict studies at King's College.