Blair denies Bush conversation on bombing al-Jazeera offices 16 December 2007Posted by foray in al-jazeera, al-jazeera english, al-jazeera memo, Blair, media, qatar, UK, US.
Confronted for the first time publicly about a purported phone conversation with US president George Bush in 2004 concerning a plan to bomb al-Jazeera headquarters in Qatar, former British PM Tony Blair has denied it ever happened.
The question was put to Blair this week during an interview with al-Jazeera, which largely focused on his current role as special envoy to the Middle East for the Quartet.
At first Blair appeared to avoid the question, but when pressed claimed that “as far as I know, there never has been any intention to bomb al-Jazeera… So, I’m afraid, I’m sorry to tell the viewers but that particular conspiracy about President Bush is not correct”.
The exchange in full:
Al-Jazeera: As an envoy, peace envoy, do you see things in a different manner that you saw in the past, for example shelling media offices let’s say, how do you describe that?
Blair: I don’t agree with this, but I don’t know what offices you mean.
I mean al-Jazeera offices for example in Afghanistan or in Iraq?
Well, first of all let me say this, you asked what I’ve learned in my time as envoy to the Middle East. I think what I have learned by travelling and seeing around Jericho in the Jordan valley and Hebron, actually travelling in the Palestinian territory, I do understand the deep sense of injustice the Palestinian people have, and I don’t agree with terrorism in any context instantly.
I understand why the Palestinian people feel angry. The important thing is to change that situation. Instantly I don’t agree with bombing the media for being the media in any situation; even though we have our disagreements from time to time.
Some people in al-Jazeera feel that they owe you their lives about that conversation between you and President Bush in which it is said you convinced him not to bomb al-Jazeera’s office.
I don’t think you have been really in any danger. So, it is kind of you to thank me but it is not necessary.
So this conversation did not take place, there was not intention or it took place in a different context?
No, put it like this, as far as I know, there never has been any intention to bomb al-Jazeera. What happens in politics is that you live your life in conspiracy theories and frankly there are enough normal and real political problems to solve without worrying about those ones. So, I’m afraid, I’m sorry to tell the viewers but that particular conspiracy about President Bush is not correct.