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Kerry and Bush in new Iraq clash


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Kerry and Bush in new Iraq clash

US Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry has accused President George W Bush of neglecting the war against terror by invading Iraq.

Mr Kerry said the invasion was "a profound diversion from the battle against our greatest enemy, al-Qaeda".

For his part, Mr Bush accused Mr Kerry of undermining Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's upbeat stance.

"You can't lead this country if your ally in Iraq feels like you question his credibility," Mr Bush said.

With just under 40 days until the presidential poll, Mr Kerry has stepped up his attacks on Mr Bush over Iraq.

The two candidates are due to meet in the first presidential debate on Thursday, which will focus on foreign policy and homeland security.

'President's misjudgement'

In a speech in Philadelphia, Mr Kerry said President Bush's Iraq invasion had made defeating terrorism more difficult.

The Massachusetts senator said if he was elected president he would "fight a tougher, smarter, more effective war on terror".

"My priority will be to find and capture or kill the terrorists before they get us," he said.

"George Bush made Saddam Hussein the priority. I would have made Osama Bin Laden the priority. I will finish the job in Iraq and I will refocus our energies on the real war on terror.

"There's just no question about it. The president's misjudgement, miscalculation and mismanagement of the war in Iraq all make the war on terror harder to win."

Earlier this week, he pledged to get more help in Iraq from other countries, to take the burden off US forces.

Bush's response

Speaking at a campaign stop in Wisconsin, President Bush accused Mr Kerry of wrongly questioning the credibility of Mr Allawi's optimistic assessment of Iraq's future.

"My opponent chose to criticise the prime minister of Iraq," Mr Bush said.

"This brave man [Allawi] came to our country to talk about how he's risking his life for a free Iraq, which helps America, and Senator Kerry held a press conference and questioned Prime Minister Allawi's credibility," Mr Bush said.

Mr Bush was speaking a day after welcoming Mr Allawi to Washington to help spread his message on the future of the conflict-torn country.

Mr Kerry earlier described Mr Allawi's visit as a public relations attempt aimed at putting the "best face" on President Bush's Iraq policies.


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