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Friday, 20 September, 2002, 17:14 GMT 18:14 UK
Walesa wants to be weapons inspector
Lech Walesa
Lech Walesa offers help to solve Iraqi issue
The former Polish President and Nobel prize-winner, Lech Walesa, says he is ready to lead a team of weapons inspectors to Iraq.

Mr Walesa, the leader of Poland's Solidarity trade union in the 1980s, says he wants to help "save the world" from conflict.

Mr Walesa stepped down from active politics in 2000, following his defeat in Poland's presidential elections. But the former firebrand believes he still has a role to play.

A team of Nobel laureates

He wants to put together a team of Nobel laureates to go to Iraq as weapons inspectors. He acknowledges that they would need technical support from the United Nations.


Everyone who has something to say should act, including the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. They received the prizes for a reason, and now they should join in and act to resolve the problem

Lech Walesa
But he says he wants to do everything possible to avoid military confrontation and violent solutions.

"As far as the inspections are concerned, we would need specialists, but I think we could get a mandate from the UN and their people. I am ready to go immediately to save peace," Mr Walesa told the BBC.

Eighties hero

Mr Walesa first rose to prominence in the early 1980s, when he defied Poland's Communist government to lead a series of strikes and establish Solidarity as the country's first independent trade union.

He was imprisoned when the Polish Government imposed martial law in 1982, but was released a year later. In 1983, he won the Nobel peace prize.

"Everyone who has something to say should act," he said, "including the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. They received the prizes for a reason, and now they should join in and act to resolve the problem (in Iraq)."

Mr Walesa is giving few details about his plans, but he says he has spoken to other Nobel laureates, and he personally is "ready to go".

"Everyone needs the USA, and we should not allow the US to carry the burden alone," he added.

"Let the UN issue an authorisation for the US to clarify the situation; if not, the US looks like the world's policeman.

"Either the UN should issue a mandate for the US to monitor peace in the world, or we should make structural adjustments (to the UN) to have someone who deals with it."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's David Shukman
"There are people around George Bush who doubt the US inspectors will ever achieve very much"

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07 Aug 02 | Europe
15 Oct 00 | Europe
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