Austria's Haider says Bush is a war criminal
VIENNA, June 17 (Reuters) Austrian right-wing populist Joerg Haider called US President George W Bush a war criminal today, days before Austria's government hosts Bush and European leaders in Vienna.
Haider, whose group is part of Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel's government coalition, said Bush's meeting with his European peers on Wednesday was pointless as he did not expect the US president to pay attention to what Europe had to tell him.
''He is a war criminal. He brought about the war against Iraq deliberately, with lies and falsehoods,'' Haider said in an interview with Austrian daily newspaper Die Presse.
''The Iraqi population is suffering terribly. Bush took the risk of an enormous number of victims,'' said Haider.
Maverick Haider is a personal friend of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and visited Iraq's former President Saddam Hussein shortly before the US-led invasion started in 2003.
Austria's attitude towards the United States has worsened over the last three years, Die Presse reported separately, citing a Eurobarometer poll.
The poll showed 62 per cent thought the United States played a negative role for world peace, up from 56 per cent in the same poll in 2003, Die Presse said, and 49 per cent found the US role in fighting terrorism negative.
REUTERS SHB PM2000