Transcripts show close ties between Blair and Clinton

By Danica Kirka, Associated Press | Posted - Jan. 8, 2016 at 7:50 a.m.


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LONDON (AP) — Bill Clinton confided in Tony Blair about his worries for Princess Diana's sons after her death in remarks that underscore the close relationship between the ex-U.S. president and former British prime minister.

The documents released by the William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum offer intriguing personal exchanges, including one on Sept. 1, 1997, the day after Diana's death in an automobile accident. Blair says that "it's like a star falling," while Clinton offers his fears for William and Harry, saying that "I worry a lot about those kids now."

Some 500 pages obtained through a BBC Freedom of Information request also show discussions on the Northern Ireland peace process, the Middle East and bombing in the Balkans. The discussions are heavily redacted and some substantive comments are blacked out.

In one transcript, Clinton proves particularly prescient as they discuss Saddam Hussein and he warns Blair that Iraq could "become a real nightmare" for him.

"I think if we say to this guy 'If you start to comply, we will lift sanctions', he will quickly re-establish the weapons of mass destruction program, and it will become known in two years that he has," Clinton said. "It may not happen while I'm in office, but it will for you. It could become a real nightmare for you."

The close bond between the two men is shown as they discuss Blair's family. Clinton joked just before he was leaving office that he will be available for babysitting duties for Blair's fourth child, Leo.

"I could do with a bit of help, I tell you," Blair told Clinton. "Cherie is in great form but just keeps getting bigger and bigger. I tell you, just the thought and I feel as if my life's about to begin again."

The transcripts also contain conversations which take bizarre twists, including one chat in which Clinton reports that Vice President Al Gore told him that when he visited British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott's office, the only decoration in the room was a bowl of bananas.

"My staff won't let me talk to you unless I have a banana at hand. I'm sitting here with a banana; it's a big, ugly, brownish one," Clinton said.

Blair quickly strives to change the subject.

"Now Bill, I thought we should have a word about Kosovo."

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Danica Kirka

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