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Thursday, 8 August, 2002, 09:28 GMT 10:28 UK
Private poll 'fuels war doubts'
Tony Blair with George Bush
Blair is being urged by some to act as a brake on Bush
Polling suggesting that US President George Bush is deeply unpopular in the UK has fuelled ministers' doubts over war with Iraq, it is reported.

Tony Blair's private pollster, Philip Gould, conducted the survey, whose details are being kept secret, says the Guardian.


The forces of evil will carry their coffins on their back to die in a disgraceful failure

Saddam Hussein
News of the poll came as Saddam Hussein said any attacks on Iraq would be doomed to failure.

UK Foreign Office Minister Mike O'Brien has insisted military action against Iraq is "neither imminent nor inevitable".

The poll findings are said to have come amid frustration among senior cabinet ministers and government advisers at what they see as a lack of a clear American policy on Iraq.

Stress

According to King Abdullah of Jordan, who visited the UK last week, Mr Blair has "tremendous" concerns about the impact a war could have.

Mike O'Brien, Foreign Office Minister
Mike O'Brien: Ball in Saddam's court
The UK has stressed the need to tackle Iraq's alleged build-up of weapons of mass destruction.

But senior US figures have spoken of "regime change" being the goal.

In a defiant television address on Thursday, Saddam Hussein said Iraq is ready for dialogue but warned that an attack on his country would be doomed to failure.

The "evil people" threatening Arab and Muslim countries would be left "in the dustbin of history", he said.

On Wednesday, President Bush promised to consult widely before action was taken.

"I promise you that I will be patient, and deliberate, that we will continue to consult with Congress, and of course we'll consult with our friends and allies," he said.

Consult

Those words prompted veteran Labour MP Tam Dalyell to renew his calls for MPs to debate possible military action.

Gerhard Schroeder
Schroeder has warned of the impact of war
In a letter to the prime minister, Mr Dalyell said: "Don't you think you ought to give a straightforward undertaking in the next 24 hours that you will follow the United States and consult elected representatives before participating in an attack on Iraq."

Mr O'Brien, in Libya for historic talks with Muammar Gaddafi, said the ball was in Saddam Hussein's court but allowing weapons inspections would make a difference.

He said: "If international law is complied with, of course the position will then be very different."

Mr O'Brien said a new regime in Baghdad would be "desirable" but getting access for weapons inspectors was the clear goal.

No Saudi support

Iraq's representative in London, Mudhafar Amin, has said the UK could play a "crucial role" in convincing Washington to find a peaceful solution.

Several Labour MPs are concerned over possible action and religious leaders said on Tuesday that war against Iraq would be illegal and immoral.

A further blow to the supporters of military action came as Saudi Arabia said it would not allow US forces to be based in its country.

Germany's Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, has also warned that an attack on Iraq would harm the war on terrorism.

See also:

08 Aug 02 | Middle East
07 Aug 02 | Politics
07 Aug 02 | Middle East
07 Aug 02 | Middle East
07 Aug 02 | Politics
06 Aug 02 | Politics
11 Jul 02 | Politics
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