London: demonstration against war on Iraq - Cardinal appeals for peace

 Members of Pax Christi and Christian CND joined thousands of anti-war protesters in central London yesterday, to call on Prime Minister Tony Blair to steer America away from war with Iraq. Earlier in the day, speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, urged Britain and America not to take any action against Iraq which would lead to further violence in the Middle East. The Cardinal said: "Anything that doesn't lead to greater stability in the Middle East, anything that doesn't lead to long term peace in the Middle East should not be done." "If a unilateral attack on Iraq would in fact cause instability, would cause the loss of ultimate peace in the Middle East, then, in my view, it would be a very dangerous step to take. The consequences must be very, very seriously looked at." Cardinal Cormac also urged Blair not to take any action which would lead to a split with the rest of the European Union, where many countries are deeply concerned about the prospect of an attack on Iraq. Mr Blair is to meet US President George Bush at a summit in Texas next week. A spokeswoman for Pax Christi said the demonstration in Trafalgar Square was against not only the "escalation of the war of terror" but also against US foreign policy, particularly its missile defence plan. She said: "we want the UK Government to use the special relationship to steer the US towards more peaceful paths." Peace campaigners fear the introduction of a missile defence shield will allow the US to use nuclear strikes without fear of reprisals. And they believe the proposed use of two UK bases - Menwith Hill and Fylingdales in Yorkshire - to support the system would make Britain a target.

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