INTERNATIONAL

Blair warns Iran against sheltering Al-Qaeda

LONDON MAY 22. The British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, today warned Iran against harbouring Al-Qaeda suspects saying this was `unacceptable'.

Mr. Blair's remarks at his monthly press conference this morning followed a similar warning from Washington.

He said the issue was being raised with Teheran and if it was true that it had been sheltering terrorists it should give them up.

Mr. Blair said he would not be drawn into a speculation over "what we might or might no do'' if Iran did not oblige, but for any country to give refuge to terrorists was unacceptable. Unlike the U.S., Britain has diplomatic relations with Iran and Mr. Blair made clear that his Government would be `pursuing' the issue through diplomatic channels.

He emphasised that terrorism and weapons of mass destruction posed a real threat, and said whether it was Iran or North Korea they had to be brought on board in tackling these two issues.

He did not agree that the invasion of Iraq had led to an upsurge in terrorist activity, and insisted that he was sure that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction would be found. Mr. Blair sounded defensive when grilled over reports that the Attorney-General, Lord Goldsmith, had advised against post-war occupation of Iraq without a U.N. mandate saying such a course would be illegal.

Mr. Blair said he would not like to comment on the specific nature of the Attorney-General's advice, but denied that his Government ever acted against his legal opinion.

He said in any case a new U.N. resolution, authorising reconstruction of Iraq, was to be passed later in the day so there should be no more controversies.

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