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Bush Told Blair Of 'Going Beyond Iraq'

based on a report by Richard Norton-Taylor. October 15, 2005

George Bush told Tony Blair shortly before the invasion of Iraq that he intended to target other countries, including Saudi Arabia, which, he implied, planned to acquire weapons of mass destruction.

Mr Bush said he "wanted to go beyond Iraq in dealing with WMD proliferation, mentioning in particular Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan," according to a note of a telephone conversation between the two men on January 30 2003.

The note is quoted in the US edition, published next week, of Lawless World, America and the Making and Breaking of Global Rules, by the British international lawyer Philippe Sands. The memo was drawn up by one of the prime minister's foreign policy advisers in Downing Street and passed to the Foreign Office, according to Mr Sands.

It is not surprising that Mr Bush referred to Iran and North Korea, or even Pakistan - at the time suspected of spreading nuclear know-how, but now one of America's closest allies in the "war on terror". What is significant is the mention of Saudi Arabia.

It is not clear how Mr Blair responded to Mr Bush's remarks during the telephone conversation, which took place on the eve of a trip to Washington for talks with the US president.

Despite hard evidence that Pakistan was deeply involved in exporting nuclear technology, the Bush administration embraced President Pervez Musharraf as an ally against al-Qaida. Washington's relations with Saudi Arabia remain cool. Mr Sands does not shed further light on the issue.

You have been reading excerpts from "Bush told Blair of 'going beyond Iraq'" by Richard Norton-Taylor. You can read the entire piece here: tinyurl.com/aoevf. Thanks to Guardian Unlimited. We visit guardian.co.uk often and we hope you will too.

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