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Mandela lobbies senior Bush over Iraq

By ERIC J. LYMAN

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- Unable to contact U.S. President George W. Bush to lobby against an attack on Iraq, Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela went to the president's father, former President George H.W. Bush.

According to South African media reports, Mandela called the elder Bush and asked him to pressure the president to change the U.S. policy toward Iraq.

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There is no word on how the conversation went, but an official close to Mandela confirmed to United Press International the conversation took place Monday.

"We know that they talked and nothing more than that," the official said in a telephone interview.

The 1993 Nobel Peace Prize winner has made no secret of his opposition to any U.S. military action in Iraq.

"No country should be allowed to take the law into its own hands," Mandela said during a brief appearance at the U.N. World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.

According to the city's Star newspaper, Mandela decided to call the elder Bush only after several attempts to contact the president himself failed.

The White House has said Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is developing or has already developed weapons of mass destruction, prompting calls from Vice President Dick Cheney to remove Saddam through a pre-emptive military action.

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But in other parts of the world, these calls have aroused alarm.

Additionally, some members of the first Bush administration, which attacked Iraq in 1991 but failed to topple Saddam, have spoken out against the U.S. stance toward Iraq, raising the possibility the elder Bush may share those views.

"I think the world would like to see the United States participate more in multilateral initiatives," a spokesman for the French delegation at the summit told UPI.

"I think this was Mr. Mandela's frustration. The call to the first (president) Bush was just the best way to get the word out."

The spokesman said Mandela had discussed the issue with French President Jacques Chirac, who has also spoken out against a unilateral U.S. attack. Other leaders speaking at the summit, which concludes Wednesday, have made similar comments.

According to the official who was in touch with Mandela, the former activist and South African president also planned to take up the issue with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who is scheduled to arrive in Johannesburg later Tuesday, and with national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.

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