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Last Updated: Friday, 28 May, 2004, 11:28 GMT 12:28 UK
Kerry attacks Bush foreign policy
John Kerry makes his speech in Seattle
Kerry spoke just days after Bush's major Iraq speech
Democratic White House challenger John Kerry has pledged that if elected president, he would build new alliances around the world to fight terrorism.

In a major speech on national security in Seattle, Mr Kerry said his top priority would be preventing terrorists from "gaining weapons of mass murder".

Attacking President Bush's decision to go to war with Iraq, he vowed to work with other nations on key issues.

Mr Bush's campaign spokesman dismissed the speech as political rhetoric.

Everyone outside the administration seems to understand that we are in deep trouble in Iraq
John Kerry
Democratic challenger

Based on this speech, most Americans would be hard-pressed to find much difference between the foreign policy of Mr Kerry and President Bush, the BBC's Rob Watson in Washington says.

But there was a difference in emphasis, as Mr Kerry pledged to listen to other nations, our correspondent says.

'Respected, not feared'

As he kicked off an 11-day campaign focusing on national security, Mr Kerry said his policy on the issue would be based on "four imperatives":

  • new alliances with foreign nations;

  • modernised military to deal with terror threats;

  • better use of diplomatic, intelligence and economic power;

  • freeing America from its dependence on the Middle East oil.

"There is still a powerful yearning around the world for an America that listens and leads again - an America that is respected, and not just feared," the senator said.

The disastrous foreign policies of the Bush administration must be replaced
Mikko Toivonen, Finland

Mr Kerry attacked the Bush administration's handling of the war in Iraq, saying it had undermined international support for the campaign against terrorism.

"They looked to force before exhausting diplomacy. They bullied when they should have persuaded. They have gone it alone whey they should have assembled a team.

"They have hoped for the best when they should have prepared for the worst. In short, they have undermined the legacy of generations of American leadership. And that is what we must restore."

In response, the Bush campaign described the senator's speech as disingenuous political grandstanding, which contained no new initiatives.

"John Kerry's approach to the war on terror has been filled with indecision and vacillation. He has consistently played politics with the war in Iraq," Mr Bush's campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt said.

The BBC's Michael Buchanan
"Some Democrats are urging John Kerry to offer clearer ideas on Iraq"

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