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World leaders hail Saddam's capture
December 14, 2003 20:42 IST
Allies of the United States as well as world leaders opposed to the invasion of Iraq on Sunday hailed former Iraq president Saddam Hussein's capture near Tikrit.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Saddam's capture "removes the shadow" over the people of Iraq. "Where his rule meant terror and division and brutality, let his capture bring about unity, reconciliation and peace between all the people of Iraq."
Blair, who was America's strongest ally in the military campaign in Iraq, said, "We can put the past behind us."
He added that Hussein would be put on trial by an Iraqi court for his crimes against Iraqi people.
The British PM urged the Sunni community in Iraq and former members of Saddam's Baath party to "grasp the opportunity for reconciliation".
His Spanish counterpart Jose Maria Aznar said in a statement on Spanish TV: "Saddam was the cause of all of the poverty in Iraq. From now on, terrorist groups are closer to being defeated."
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who opposed the war, wrote to US President George W Bush saying: "With great happiness I have learnt of the capture of Saddam Hussein. I congratulate you on the successful mission.
"Saddam Hussein has brought unspeakable suffering over his own people and the whole region. I hope that with his capture the efforts of the international community to the reconstruction and stabilisation of Iraq will be furthered."
A statement from French President Jacques Chirac, who was also against the war, said: "It is a major event that would strongly contribute to the democratisation and stabilisation of Iraq and allow Iraqis to find again the control of their destiny in a sovereign Iraq."
The head of Iraq's interim governing council Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim said in Madrid: "This is a big blow to terrorists in Iraq. It is a great day for humanity and Iraqi people".