Portugal's ex-PM "duped" on Iraq, Spain most 'gung-ho'
20 November 2007, Lisbon - European Commission President José Manuel Durão Barroso claimed this week that he had been duped into supporting the war in Iraq while prime minister of Portugal in 2003.
20 November 2007
Lisbon - European Commission President José Manuel Durão Barroso claimed this week that he had been duped into supporting the war in Iraq while prime minister of Portugal in 2003.
He argued that former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar was among the political leaders most gung-ho over a meeting in the Azores Islands days before the invasion.
In an interview with Portugal's 'Diario de Notícias' newspaper and radio station TSF, Barroso alleged that he was provided with false information at the now-notorious conference in the Portuguese archipelago on March 16, 2003, where he joined US President George W. Bush, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Aznar.
"Information was given to me and to others that did not correspond with the truth," Barroso said. "There are documents to prove it. I saw them and they said that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that was not the truth."
Barroso, a conservative who stepped down as Portugal's prime minister in 2004 to take over the top job at the European Commission, is the latest of the leaders present at the Azores conference to admit that they based their decision to support the invasion on false or mistaken intelligence. Barroso claimed that he had been against the war from the start, but had agreed to organize the Azores conference because Portugal's "friends" had asked for it.
"Our friends and allies asked. The United States, the United Kingdom and Spain - especially Spain," Barroso said.
Aznar, the Commission president insinuated, had been the leader most in favor of the conference at which the allies laid out their plans for the war.
In February this year, the conservativeformer Spanish prime minister admitted that he had made a mistake in believing Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. "Everybody thought there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and there weren't. Everybody knows this now and so do I," Aznar said.
Barroso's own admission drew criticism from Portugal's governing Socialist Party. "He should have said that earlier," José Lello, the party's foreign affairs spokesman, said.
Portugal's Communists went further, accusing Barroso of "sharing responsibility for the tragedy in Iraq."
[Copyright EL PAÍS, SL. / MIGUEL MORA 2007]
Subject: Spanish news