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Mandela Slams U.S. for Diplomatic 'Piracy'

Tue December 17, 2002 08:53 AM ET

STELLENBOSCH, South Africa (Reuters) - South Africa's Nelson Mandela lambasted the United States Tuesday for what he said were efforts to sideline the United Nations and condemned a U.S. grab for an Iraq weapons dossier as piracy.

The former South African president, who has been praised across the planet for his efforts to heal the wounds that decades of apartheid inflicted on his country, said he felt let down by the silence of other world leaders over U.S. policy.

"I am disappointed with heads of state who are just keeping quiet when the United States wants to sideline the United Nations," he told the ANC's five-yearly conference.

The latest move, providing evidence for what Mandela says is the dangerous U.S. disregard for the principles of multilateral world governance, was the arrival of Iraq's 12,000-page weapons declaration dossier in Washington earlier this month.

Washington obtained an early unedited copy of the Iraqi declaration originally sent to the United Nations after a deal was struck to override a U.N. Security Council decision to keep the report under wraps at U.N. headquarters in New York.

"This was an act of piracy which must be condemned by everyone," the former South African president told members of the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

Iraq blasted the move and said the United States would manipulate the dossier to produce a pretext to launch war.

Mandela, 84, said both he and current South African President Thabo Mbeki counted themselves as friends of the United States and of President Bush. But Mandela has been a fierce critic of U.S. policy toward Iraq.

"And one must not be dishonest and evade the real issue, viz. that the United States of America (with the United Kingdom in tow) has tended to dangerously disregard the principles of multilateral world governance," he said.

"The conduct of the United States and the Bush administration with regards to the current Iraq issue is a case in point."

Mandela said there was a clear impression that the United States "remained intent on military action against Iraq at all costs."

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