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Bush says he rebuked Mahathir

October 23, 2003

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KUTA (Indonesia), Oct 22: US President George Bush said on Wednesday that he rebuked Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad at the recently concluded APEC summit over his controversial “Jews rule the world” remarks.

In a briefing aboard his Canberra-bound Air Force One, Mr Bush said he had pulled Mahathir aside at the Thailand gathering to tell him personally that he thought those comments were “reprehensible”.

“I said, ‘they’re divisive and unnecessary.’ I didn’t yell at him, I just told him,” the US president told reporters. “You can’t pit groups against each other.”

Mr Bush also worked to find a silver lining in Mahathir’s address, saying: “He said that we need more education, a terrorist ban, which is good, that was positive.”

At last week’s summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in Malaysia, Mahathir said: “The Europeans killed six million Jews out of 12 million. But today the Jews rule this world by proxy.”

The outspoken Asian leader, whose comments drew global condemnation and outrage from Western nations, added that 1.3 billion Muslims could not be defeated by a few million Jews.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said on Monday that Mr Bush had pulled Mahathir aside to denounce his “wrong and divisive” comments. The prime minister fired back a day later, saying that Mr Bush “did not rebuke me”.

“I do not know how people came to this conclusion. He (Bush) did pull me aside to explain to me why he had to make a strong statement against me,” Mahathir said.—AFP

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