'We'd go to war again' says defiant Bush-Blair double act
GEORGE Bush and Tony Blair yesterday staged their final double act of defiance, telling the world they would go to war again in Iraq if it was called for.
At a valedictory summit in Washington, the two leaders said they had no regrets about the decision to invade in 2003.
Mr Bush also heaped praise on the outgoing Prime Minister. The US president accused the media of trying to "tap dance on [Mr Blair's] political grave" by constantly questioning the point of yesterday's meeting due to the fact that Gordon Brown will take over as Prime Minister by the end of next month.
He repeatedly came to Mr Blair's defence, criticising reporters. He said: "You don't understand how effective Blair is. Will I miss working with Tony Blair? You bet, absolutely. Can I work with the next guy? Of course."
Mr Bush described Mr Blair as a "man of courage", adding: "Tony Blair is someone who follows through on his commitments."
Mr Blair was also steadfast in his loyalty to the President and the decision to go to war.
He said he would take the same decision again to stand "shoulder to shoulder" with America, as he took after the 11 September, 2001, terror attacks.
And, of his relationship with Mr Bush, the Prime Minister said: "I admire him as a president and regard him as a friend."
Amid the strains of anti-war demonstrators safely barricaded outside the White House grounds, Mr Blair said he and the President could have taken the easy decision to pull out troops and win cheers.
But, he said, "this is a fight we cannot afford to lose".
Mr Blair predicted the UK would remain a "staunch ally" of the US under a Brown premiership, and Mr Bush said he was sure he would work well with the Chancellor, whom he described as "a good fellow".
Mr Bush was also asked whether their close alliance had been the reason Mr Blair had to step down now. "Could be," he replied."I don't know."
Mr Bush said he hoped to "help [Mr Brown] in office the way Tony Blair helped me".
In London, Mr Brown said he hoped to build a "very strong" relationship with Mr Bush - stressing the shared values between the two countries had "endured over the ages".
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