[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 20 September, 2004, 21:12 GMT 22:12 UK
UK envoy's Bush barb made public
Sir Ivor Roberts watches Peter Mandelson
Ivor Roberts [left] was ambassador to Ireland before going to Rome
Critical private remarks by the British ambassador in Rome about US President George W Bush have been leaked by the Italian media.

A leading daily newspaper has quoted Sir Ivor Roberts as calling Mr Bush "al-Qaeda's best recruiting sergeant."

Sir Ivor reportedly made the comment at a yearly meeting of British and Italian political and business leaders on Sunday.

Remarks at the conference are usually considered off the record.

I would rather sup with the French ambassador
Giuliano Ferrara
Newspaper editor
"If anyone's ready to celebrate the eventual re-election of Bush, it is none other than al-Qaeda," Sir Ivor was quoted as saying by the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

It reported he also told the meeting of British and Italian politicians, bankers, academics and journalists in Tuscany: "Bush is al-Qaeda's best recruiting sergeant."

The paper said the comments confirmed members of Tony Blair's government were beginning to have second thoughts about the war in Iraq.

The BBC's correspondent in Rome, David Willey, says everything said at the meeting is understood by delegates to be off the record under conference rules.


The publication of the ambassador's remarks, which are contrary to official British and Italian government policy of supporting the Americans in Iraq, has caused a small diplomatic flurry.

Giuliano Ferrara, the editor of the conservative Il Foglio newspaper and a former adviser to Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, has cancelled a plan to attend a dinner at Sir Ivor's residence on Monday night.

"The dinner unfortunately would be a complete waste of time and a grotesque hypocrisy," he said in an open letter.

"I would rather sup with the French ambassador, who loyally represents his government in Rome."

The British embassy in Rome has declined to comment on the paper's reporting of the remarks.

Sir Ivor was British ambassador to Yugoslavia and Ireland before his posting to Italy.

UK Kenya envoy 'regrets insult'
15 Jul 04  |  Africa
Tube pulls 'smelly food' poster
30 Jul 04  |  England
Diplomats slam Blair on Mid-East
27 Apr 04  |  Politics

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific