Mandela pressures Blair on Iraq

PRETORIA, Jan 7 (South News) -South African President Nelson Mandela on Thursday put pressure on visiting Prime Minister Tony Blair to push for a peaceful solution to the British and US dispute with Iraq over weapons inspections.

The dispute led to Britain and the United States launching air strikes against Iraq last month, an offensive strongly condemned by South Africa.

After hour-long talks with Blair, Mandela told reporters: "There is no issue that cannot be settled and I hope that in due course ... the parties themselves, using the United Nations, will be able to sit down and resolve this matter."

In Cape Town, about 300 Moslems gathered on the outskirts of the city to protest against four days of British and U.S. attacks on Iraq, but police stopped the march before it got under way because organisers had not sought permission.

The protesters later made their way in small groups to the U.S. consulate in central Cape Town, where they burned makeshift U.S. and Israeli flags.

Police said they arrested four people and were considering charging them with holding an illegal gathering. One of those arrested said five people had been detained and they would be charged with attempted murder after a shot was fired at police.