Troops in Iraq greater danger to world peace than Iran — poll

WASHINGTON (AP) — The presence of US troops in Iraq is considered a greater threat to Mideast stability than the current government in Iran, according to a new poll of European and Muslim countries.

The poll found that people in Britain, France, Germany, Spain and Russia rated the presence of troops in Iraq higher than the government in Iran as a threat, according to polling by the Pew Research Centre for the People and the Press. Views of US troops in Iraq were even more negative in countries like Indonesia, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and Pakistan.

“We are seen by many of our allies as a problem,” said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Centre.

In Britain, the United States’ closest ally in Iraq, 41 per cent of those surveyed said the US military presence in Iraq was a danger to world peace, Only 34 percent described the Iran government as a danger.

Iran’s nuclear programme is seen as a serious threat by international leaders, who have been pressuring Iran to drop that programme. Leaders of the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain and Germany have offered Iran a number of incentives to suspend uranium enrichment.

The United States believes Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons, Iran says its nuclear programme is for non-military purposes.

The war in Iraq trumps the Iranian situation at a time the image of the United States and its war on terrorism continues to drop internationally. America’s image rebounded in some countries last year after the US offered aid to tsunami victims, but those gains have disappeared, the Pew poll found.

The 15-nation poll also found:

— Overall support for the US-led war on terrorism has declined even among close allies.

— Favourable opinions of the United States continues to fall, with sharp declines in Spain, Turkey and India.

— People in the United States and European countries are far more likely than those in Muslim countries to view the victory of Hamas in the Palestinian elections as a negative development.

— Western European nations and predominantly Muslim nations have sharply different views on Iran, which the United States claims is developing nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes.

— Majorities in 10 of 14 foreign countries — including Britain — say Iraq war has made world more dangerous

— Concern about global warming is low in China and United States, the two largest producers of greenhouse gases, while high elsewhere.

— Public alarm about the spread of bird flu is mostly limited to Asia.

— The Chinese, at 81 percent, tend to be most satisfied with conditions in their nation. Nigerians, at 7 per cent, tend to be the least satisfied. Only 2 in 10 French and 3 in 10 Americans and Germans are satisfied with the state of their nations.

The polling in 15 countries of samples ranging from about 900 to 2,000 adults was conducted in April and May and has a margin of error ranging from 2 to 6 percentage points.

The polling included a proportionately larger sampling of Muslims in the European countries. In China, India and Pakistan, the polling was based on urban samples.

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