Blair 'disaster' admission over Iraq a 'slip of the tongue'
by Roland Jackson Sat Nov 18, 2:13 PM ET
LONDON (AFP) - Downing Street moved swiftly to play down an apparent admission by British Prime Minister Tony Blair that the invasion of Iraq had been a "disaster," labelling his comments a "slip of the tongue."
In an interview Friday on Al-Jazeera's new English-language channel, broadcaster Sir David Frost suggested that the 2003 US-led and British-backed invasion had "so far been pretty much of a disaster."
"It has," Blair replied, before adding quickly: "But you see, what I say to
people is why is it difficult in Iraq? It's not difficult because of some accident in planning.
"It's difficult because there's a deliberate strategy... to create a situation in which the will of the majority for peace is displaced by the will of the minority for war."
But during Blair's trip to Pakistan for talks with President Pervez Musharraf, the prime minister's official spokesman told reporters: "It was a straightforward slip of the tongue... sometimes he does this when he's half-listening to the question and wants to get on and respond."
The spokesman insisted that Blair did not think Iraq was a disaster.
"But what he does acknowledge is that there are difficulties and he doesn't in any way try to downplay those difficulties," he added.
Earlier, another Downing Street spokesman told AFP that Blair "does not use the word disaster."
Responding to the comments, Sir Menzies Campbell, leader of the Liberal Democrats, Britain's third-biggest political party, lambasted the government over its record in Iraq and demanded that Blair say sorry.
"If the prime minister accepts that it is a 'disaster' then surely parliament and the British people, who were given a flawed prospectus, are entitled to an apology," he said.
(article continues at http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/britainqatariraqmedia