South Africa's Mandela Criticizes United States Ahead of Bush Visit
Published on Saturday, June 28, 2003 by the Associated Press
South Africa's Mandela Criticizes United States Ahead of Bush Visit
by Japan Mathebula

Former President Nelson Mandela criticized President Bush on Friday for the U.S.-led war in Iraq, and hinted he might not meet with Bush when he visits South Africa.

Mandela, speaking to reporters, used strong language to condemn the U.S.-led war for the second time in less than six months.

"For anybody, especially the leader of a super state, to act outside the United Nations is something that must be condemned by everybody," Mandela said after meeting with French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin.

Asked if he would convey his views to Bush next month, the 84-year-old Mandela replied: "You assume that he's going to meet me. I wouldn't make that assumption.

"I know he's coming to see the president, but I cannot be sure if he's going to want to meet me," he added. "So I won't be able to tell him anything. I have said what I wanted to say and I don't have to repeat it."

The White House has not disclosed whether Bush plans to meet with Mandela on his trip to Africa that starts July 7.

Mandela won the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for leading the campaign against apartheid and is perhaps the most respected political figure in Africa.

In his remarks Friday, the former South African president had warm words for France.

"I am very happy about the attitude taken by President Jacques Chirac because he made it clear that France was in favor of peace," Mandela said.

De Villepin, who is on the last day of a two-day visit to South Africa, said he admired Mandela "for what he has done for his country and what he has done for the world."

He said they had exchanged views on French and European involvement in assisting Africa both in development and in crises.

On Jan. 29, Mandela called President Bush arrogant and shortsighted and implied that he was racist for ignoring the United Nations in his zeal to attack Iraq.

In a speech, Mandela urged the people of the United States to join massive protests against Bush and he called on world leaders, especially those with vetoes in the U.N. Security Council, to oppose the administration.

"One power with a president who has no foresight and cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust," Mandela told the International Women's Forum in January.

At the time, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer responded to Mandela's criticism by pointing to a letter by eight European leaders reiterating their support of Bush.

© 2003 The Associated Press