Blair signs Olympic Truce

2004-08-14 17:57

Athens - British Prime Minister Tony Blair signed the Olympic Truce at the birthplace of the games on Saturday, even as his troops in Iraq were breaking the spirit of the document which calls for a halt in worldwide conflict during the 16 days of competition.

Organizers of the truce - inspired by the cease-fire between warring city-states during the ancient games - say more than 450 world leaders and international personalities have signed the initiative.

On Saturday, 20 prime ministers, heads of state and members of royal families signed the document, including Blair, Spain's Queen Sofia and Prince Albert of Monaco. Organizers said former US President George W Bush was invited, but declined to attend.

German President Horst Kohler also signed the pledge to halt conflict during the sporting event. Germany and France were strong opponents of the US-led invasion of Iraq.

The signatories added their names to a list that included Pope John Paul II, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and former US President Bill Clinton.

The truce, however, is clearly not observed by Washington, which has troops fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Asked why US forces were not observing an Olympic cease-fire, US Secretary of State Colin Powell told reporters on Friday that while the idea was a noble one, "The world does not stop entirely for the Olympics."

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