Blair wife sorry for bomb remarks
LONDON, England -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair's wife, Cherie, has apologised for comments that political opponents said appeared to justify Palestinian suicide bombers.
Speaking hours after an attack that killed 19 Israelis on a Jerusalem bus, she told reporters: "As long as young people feel they have got no hope but to blow themselves up, you are never going to make progress."
Mrs. Blair, a human rights lawyer, made her comments next to Queen Rania of Jordan at a charity appeal for medical aid for Palestinians.
She drew instant condemnation from Britain's opposition Conservatives, and Israeli diplomats expressed regret at her remarks and their timing.
"These are most unfortunate words by the prime minister's wife," Conservative foreign affairs spokesman Michael Ancram told Reuters.
"There can never be any justification for terrorist violence, particularly of the kind we saw in Israel this morning," Ancram said.
The Israeli Embassy told the news agency it regretted "any public statements which might be interpreted as expressing understanding for Palestinian terrorism."
Later a spokeswoman for the prime minister's wife told CNN if any offence had been taken from the interpretation of her comments "then Mrs. Blair is obviously sorry."
She added: "None was intended and it goes without saying that she condemns the atrocity today in the strongest possible terms along with all right minded people.
"She did not and nor would she ever condone suicide bombers or say they had no choice."
Mrs. Blair has run into opposition criticism before, with one Liberal Democrat calling her a "super-minister without portfolio" after she chaired a series of seminars in Downing Street earlier this year.
The spokeswoman added that Mrs. Blair agreed with a statement by Queen Rania that "the killing of innocent civilians is not acceptable, irrespective of perpetrator or victim. Killings will not lead to political solutions."
The controversy forced her husband to turn his attention from European Union politics to rally to her defence. He said she had merely stressed that the path to a peace deal lay through negotiations, not violence.
"I hope that no one misdescribes her sentiments or mine," Tony Blair told reporters in his Downing Street office. "Everybody in this situation feels nothing but the deepest sympathy for the people that lost their lives in the latest terrorist attack.
"But of course it is true that we need to make sure that there is hope for the future and the hope lies in a political process taking the place of the extremists, the terrorists and the suicide bombers," Blair said.
"I am quite sure that was what Cherie was saying."
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