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Albright, secretary of state under President Clinton, said the March 2003 invasion of Iraq has led to a series of misfortunes that should have been anticipated.
''Instead of winning friends for America, it has poisoned our relations with many countries in the Mideast and the Muslim world,'' Albright told a conference on the role of citizens in shaping the nation's image abroad.
''I think that if it were put to a vote, the Iraqi people might want the U.S. to stay for some period of time,'' Albright said. ''What they don't want is a sense that we might be there forever.''
Many Iraqis are suspicious that the United States is occupying the country to assure itself access to Mideastern oil, she said.
President Bush has argued that withdrawing American forces from Iraq would make the world more dangerous and allow terrorists to claim an historic victory over the United States. He repeated that stand on Thursday and said Iraqi officials are making progress in taking responsibility for their country's security.
Albright argued that American diplomacy must be based firmly in the best interests of the United States, but it also must include an understanding of the needs of other countries.
"Certainly the unilateralism we have seen in recent years hasn't worked," she said.