Thursday, May 17, 2007

Blair meets Bush in US for one last time

On his final visit to the US as Prime Minister Tony Blair met with President George W Bush. After a private meeting the two leaders addressed the press in the Rose Garden. George Bush addressed the assembled media first and acknowledged Tony Blair as a ‘friend’ and a ‘partner in peace’. The President said they had discussed, Iraq, Afghanistan and the peace initiative in the Middle East. They also discussed the need to tackle issues surrounding Africa, particularly the chaotic situation in Darfur in the Sudan. The environment was also discussed, the President said; however no great detail was given as to what plans the two countries had placed on the G8 agenda. He then handed the floor to Mr Blair. The Prime Minister said the President was “unyielding, unflinching and determined” and described the relationship as a controversial one but it was nonetheless important that the two countries stood side by side. Mr Blair said it was important to work towards a two state solution in the Middle East in order to resolve the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Mr Blair said that the two countries would continue to stand “shoulder to shoulder” as allies in the war against terrorism. “The forces we are fighting in Iraq are the same elements we are fighting everywhere… there is no alternative for us but to fight it wherever it exists,” the outgoing Prime Minister said; “This is a fight we cannot afford to lose.” There was much praise from President Bush for the Prime Minister. He said that Mr Blair was widely respected in the International Community. “When Prime Minister Blair talks, people listen”, the President said. “And he follows through on his conviction…so yes, he is the right guy to be dealing with,” Mr Bush added. This reaction came in response to a series of critical questions coming from the British media during the later part of the press conference. During these statements of support, Mr Blair appeared almost embarrassed with a broad grin across his face. It will be interesting to see the developing relationship with the new Prime Minister soon to take over from Tony Blair. Already President Bush has described Gordon Brown as a “good fellow” and says he looks forward to dealing with him. How strong their relationship will be, only time will tell.

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