Thursday, December 07, 2006

Bush & Blair meet in Washington

Prime Minister Blair flew into the US late last night to talk with George Bush about the situation in Iraq. This followed the releasing of a critical report over the situation in the country. Bush has said it was a “tough report” but would look “seriously” at its recommendations. The Iraq Study Group Report [PDF file], which has already hit no. 18 in the best seller list, [MSNBC] described the situation in Iraq as “grave and deteriorating” and said there was “no magic formula”. It also proposed a withdrawal of troops within 18 months and said one key was a solution to the “Middle East process” between Israel and Palestine. Speaking on CNN, Robin Oakley said if he had a dollar for every time Blair had iterated the key to the Iraq issue was the Palestine/Israel situation he’d be buying his wife a new car this Christmas! When the two leaders finally met, both echoed each other with their resolve to see the job done. Bush said, “We will defeat the extremists and radicals”. Tony Blair adding that the issue was a “Struggle for freedom and democracy.” He added that the “Consequenses of failure are severe” and that there were three elements which were important. He said the first element was the support of Maliki governent. Secondly, all that were engaged in this should support the Maliki government. And thirdly it was important to solve the question of peace in the Israel/Palestinian issue. He emphasised the task was “tough and challenging” but the only choice was between secularism or democracy. He said, “the only realistic path is to spread the idea of liberty.”
In questions folowing the briefing bothleaders were tackled over issues raised in the Baker Hamilton report on Iraq. Blair said the report was useful. But he said the situation had become difficult. “Outside extemists were linking up with internal extremists” which made it difficult to instil democracy in the region. He went on to say that “the old Middle East had the origins of all the problems we see, it’s come out of a perverted view of Islam.”
“We have to have to right vision. If the Israel/Palestine issue was not solved then nothing would be solved,” the Prime Minister said. He said there were obstacles but “not beyond the wit of ourselves” to overcome. [CNN]

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