Sir Richard Branson said on CNN’s “New Day” Friday that Nelson Mandela tried to prevent the Iraq war by flying to Saddam Hussein to convince him to step down, but bombing started when “the plane was due to leave South Africa.”
“He was incredibly angry about the invasion of Iraq,” Branson said. “I spoke with him before the invasion of Iraq. And actually sent a plane to take him to Iraq to see Saddam Hussein to try to persuade Saddam Hussein to step down. Him and Kofi Anon were going on a secret mission.
Also read: Nelson Mandela: 5 Great Interviews in the Life of a Legend (Video)
“The day the plane was due to leave South Africa, sadly the bombing started and they never had the chance to try to get Saddam Hussein to step down in the interest of his country and the people,” Branson said. “He was trying all the time to try to resolve conflicts, rather than encourage the starting of conflicts to resolve problems.”
Branson said Mandela, who organized a peaceful transition of power from the same pro-apartheid regime that held him prisoner for 27 years, believed most of all in forgiveness.
“The one word I think that sums him up the most is forgiveness. And I think that he would want all of us individually, in our own lives, to pick up the phone today. Talk to somebody that you’ve fallen out with. Invite them to lunch. Embrace them. Life is too short to have any enemies. On the bigger picture, he would have welcomed the talks with Iran. It’s so much better to try to become friends again with nations that you’ve once fallen out with, rather than drop bombs on each other.”
Watch the interview: