World leaders welcome news about Saddam capture
World leaders on Sunday welcomed Saddam Hussein's capture, saying it brought the end to the career of the ousted leader and could mark the beginning of peace in Iraq.
"This is very good news for the people of Iraq," British Prime Minister Tony Blair said. "It removes the shadow that has been hanging over them for too long of the nightmare of a return to the Saddam regime." Blair indicated that Saddam could be "tried in Iraqi courts for his crimes against the Iraqi people."
"We should try now to unite the whole of Iraq in rebuilding the country and offering it a new future," the British leader said.
The Spanish government, another supporter of the war, also hailed the news. "It is a great day for humankind," said Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio. "The horrible shadow of this bloody dictator is going to vanish."
France, which has opposed the war, said the capture would help stabilize the country and lead to its sovereignty. "It's a major event that should strongly contribute to democracy and stability in Iraq and allow the Iraqis to master their destiny in a sovereign Iraq," French President Jacques Chirac said in a statement, according to The AP.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, another foe of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, congratulated President Bush on Saddam's capture. "With much happiness I learned about the arrest of Saddam Hussein," Schroeder wrote in a letter to Bush released by the German government. "I congratulate you on this successful action."
Japan, Australia and other countries also were quick to applaud the news of Saddam's capture. "We're absolutely thrilled that Saddam Hussein has been captured," Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said in a statement. "And his capture has the potential to change the situation on the ground."
NATO chief George Robertson said the capture was "excellent news" and will help to stabilise Iraq. "In as far as this is confirmed, Mr. Robertson welcomes this excellent news which is going to help Iraq regain stability," his spokesman told AFP.
Israeli President Moshe Katzav also expressed delight at Saddam's arrest, saying it served as a warning to sponsors of international "terrorism." "It is excellent news for Israel and is proof that the international community will not tolerate a totalitarian state which backs international terrorism," Katsav told public radio during his official visit to China.
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