For Immediate Release
President Bush, Prime Minister Blair Hold Press Availability
Office of the Press Secretary
March 27, 2003
Camp David, Maryland
11:00 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. It's my honor to welcome my friend
and Prime Minister of Great Britain, Tony Blair, back to Camp David.
America has learned a lot about Tony Blair over the last weeks. We've
learned that he's a man of his word. We've learned that he's a man of
courage, that he's a man of vision. And we're proud to have him as a
The United States and United Kingdom are acting together in a noble
purpose. We're working together to make the world more peaceful; we're
working together to make our respective nations and all the free
nations of the world more secure; and we're working to free the Iraqi
British, American, Australian, Polish and other coalition troops
are sharing the duties of this war, and we're sharing the sacrifices of
this war. Together, coalition forces are advancing day by day, in
steady progress, against the enemy. Slowly, but surely, the grip of
terror around the throats of the Iraqi people is being loosened.
We appreciate the bravery, the professionalism of the British
troops, and all coalition troops. Together we have lost people, and
the American people offer their prayers to the loved ones of the
British fallen, just as we offer our prayers to the loved ones of our
own troops who have fallen.
We're now engaging the dictator's most hardened and most desperate
units. The campaign ahead will demand further courage and require
further sacrifice. Yet we know the outcome: Iraq will be disarmed;
the Iraqi regime will be ended; and the long-suffering Iraqi people
will be free.
In decades of oppression, the Iraqi regime has sought to instill
the habits of fear in the daily lives of millions; yet, soon, the
Iraqis will have the confidence of a free people. Our coalition will
stand with the citizens of Iraq in the challenges ahead. We are
prepared to deliver humanitarian aid on a large scale -- and as a
matter of fact, are beginning to do so as we speak.
Today the Prime Minister and I also urge the United Nations to
immediately resume the oil-for-food program. More than half the Iraqi
people depend on this program as their sole source of food. This
urgent humanitarian issue must not be politicized, and the Security
Council should give Secretary General Annan the authority to start
getting food supplies to those most in need of assistance.
As we address the immediate suffering of the Iraqi people, we're
also committed to helping them over the long-term. Iraq's greatest
long-term need is a representative government that protects the rights
of all Iraqis. The form of this government will be chosen by the Iraqi
people, not imposed by outsiders. And the Prime Minister and I are
confident that a free Iraq will be a successful nation.
History requires more of our coalition than a defeat of a terrible
danger. I see an opportunity, as does Prime Minister Blair, to bring
renewed hope and progress to the entire Middle East. Last June 24th, I
outlined a vision of two states, Israel and Palestine living
side-by-side in peace and security. Soon, we'll release the road map
that is designed to help turn that vision into reality. And both
America and Great Britain are strongly committed to implementing that
For nearly a century, the United States and Great Britain have been
allies in the defense of liberty. We've opposed all the great threats
to peace and security in the world. We shared in the costly and heroic
struggle against Nazism. We shared the resolve and moral purpose of
the Cold War. In every challenge, we've applied the combined power of
our nations to the cause of justice, and we're doing the same today.
Our alliance is strong, our resolve is firm, and our mission will be
Mr. Prime Minister.
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you for
your welcome. Thank you for your strength and for your leadership at
this time. And I believe the alliance between the United States and
Great Britain has never been in better or stronger shape.
Can I also offer the American people, on behalf of the British
people, our condolences, our sympathy, our prayers for the lives of
those who have fallen in this conflict, just as we have offered the
condolence, the sympathy, and the prayers to the families of our own
Just under a week into this conflict, let me restate our complete
and total resolve. Saddam Hussein and his hateful regime will be
removed from power. Iraq will be disarmed of weapons of mass
destruction, and the Iraqi people will be free. That is our
commitment, that is our determination, and we will see it done.
We had this morning a presentation of the latest military
situation, which shows already the progress that has been made. It's
worth just recapping it, I think, for a moment. In less than a week,
we have secured the southern oil fields and facilities, and so
protected that resource and wealth for the Iraqi people and avoided
ecological disaster. We've disabled Iraq's ability to launch external
aggression from the west.
Our forces are now within 50 miles of Baghdad. They've surrounded
Basra. They've secured the key port of Umm Qasr. They've paved the
way for humanitarian aid to flow into the country. And they brought
real damage on Iraq's command and control. So we can be confident that
the goals that we have set ourselves will be met.
I would like to pay tribute to the professionalism and integrity of
our forces and those of the United States of America, our other
coalition allies, and to say how their professionalism, as well as
their skill and their bravery, stands in sharp contrast to the
brutality of Saddam's regime.
Day by day, we have seen the reality of Saddam's regime -- his
thugs prepared to kill their own people; the parading of prisoners of
war; and now, the release of those pictures of executed British
soldiers. If anyone needed any further evidence of the depravity of
Saddam's regime, this atrocity provides it. It is yet one more
flagrant breach of all the proper conventions of war. More than that,
to the families of the soldiers involved, it is an act of cruelty
beyond comprehension. Indeed, it is beyond the comprehension of anyone
with an ounce of humanity in their souls.
On behalf of the British government, I would like to offer my
condolences particularly to the family and the friends of those two
brave young men who died in the service of their country, and to the
ordinary Iraqi people, to whom we are determined to bring a better
The future of the Iraqi people is one reason why much of our
discussion has focused on humanitarian issues. Again, here we have the
ship, the Sir Galahad, loaded with tons of supplies destined for the
people of Iraq. The other immediate humanitarian priority is to
restart the U.N. oil-for-food program, which the President and I
discussed, and which I will be discussing with Kofi Annan later this
evening. And this is urgent.
We also discussed the post-conflict issues. Contrary to a lot of
the comment on this, the position is exactly as the President and I set
out in the Azores -- namely, that we will work with the U.N., our
allies and partners and bilateral donors. We will seek new U.N.
Security Council resolutions to affirm Iraq's territorial integrity, to
ensure rapid delivery of humanitarian relief, and endorse an
appropriate post-conflict administration for Iraq.
But let me emphasize once again that our primary focus now is, and
must be, the military victory, which we will prosecute with the utmost
vigor. And the immediate priority for the United Nations is, as the
President was indicating a moment or two ago, the oil-for-food
In addition, as has just been said to you, we had an excellent
discussion of the Middle East, and we both share a complete
determination to move this forward. It is, indeed, often overlooked
that President Bush is the first U.S. President publicly to commit
himself to a two-state solution, an Israel confident of its security
and a viable Palestinian state. And I welcome the decision announced
recently to publish the road map as soon as the confirmation of the new
Palestinian Prime Minister is properly administered.
Finally, I would just like to say this: I think it is important
that we recognize at this time that the goals that we are fighting for
are just goals. Whatever the difficulty of war, let us just remember
this is a regime that has brutalized its people for well over two
decades. Of course, there will be people fiercely loyal to that regime
who will fight all the way; they have no option. But I have no doubt
at all that the vast majority of ordinary Iraqi people are desperate
for a better and different future, for Iraq to be free, for its
government to be representative of its people, for the human rights of
the people to be cared for.
And that is why, though, of course, our aim is to rid Iraq of
weapons of mass destruction and make our world more secure. The
justice of our cause lies in the liberation of the Iraqi people. And
to them we say, we will liberate you. The day of your freedom draws
THE PRESIDENT: We'll take two questions a side. We would hope
that you would respect asking one question per question.
Q That, of course, means I can ask each leader one question.
THE PRESIDENT: No, it does not mean that. Of course, you will
anyway, but --
Q Yes, sir.
First to you, Mr. Prime Minister. Briefly, Secretary Powell said
yesterday that the U.N. should have a role in postwar Iraq, but that
the United States should have a significant, dominating control of
post-Saddam Iraq. How will that kind of talk play in Europe?
And, Mr. President, can you help me understand the timing of this
war? You talked yesterday that it will be -- we're far from over.
Today you said, it's going slowly, but surely we're working our way to
our end goal. Given that the resistance has been as strong as it's
been in the south, and that we have what you call the most hardened,
most desperate forces still around Baghdad, are we to assume that this
is going to last -- could last months and not weeks -- and not
THE PRESIDENT: I'll answer that question very quickly and then get
to his. However long it takes to win. That's --
Q -- take months?
THE PRESIDENT: However long it takes to achieve our objective.
And that's important for you to know, the American people to know, our
allies to know, and the Iraqi people to know.
Q It could be months?
THE PRESIDENT: However long it takes. That's the answer to your
question and that's what you've got to know. It isn't a matter of
timetable, it's a matter of victory. And the Iraqi people have got to
know that, see. They've got to know that they will be liberated and
Saddam Hussein will be removed, no matter how long it takes.
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: In relation to the United Nations, there's
no doubt at all that the United Nations has got to be closely involved
in this process. That's not just right; it's in everyone's interest
that it happens. All I'm saying to people is, the focus -- the
immediate focus has got to be on the oil-for-food program, because that
is thing we need to get sorted out with the United Nations literally in
the next few days.
Now, after that is the issue of the post-conflict administration,
where, as we said in our Azores statement, it's important there, again,
that the U.N. is involved, and that any post-conflict administration in
Iraq is endorsed by it.
But there are huge numbers of details to be discussed with our
allies as to exactly how that is going to work -- and also, the
conflict is not yet over, we are still in the conflict. So we will
carry on discussing that with the U.N., with other allies. But I think
that is best done in those discussions without trying to do it by
discussion through the press conference or through megaphone
But, about the role of the U.N. and the basis of the principles we
set out in the Azores Summit, there is simply no difference at all
there. But there are a huge amount of details as to exactly how that
is to be implemented that have to be a matter of discussion, and also,
a matter of a reflection of the reality that we will face when we get
to the point of post-conflict.
Q -- of the BBC. For both leaders, if I may. We, all of us,
noted quite a shift in emphasis over the last few days from a hope that
this could be over very, very quickly, to the military in both
countries briefing about months. My question is really, why do you
think that shift has taken place? Did we underestimate the scale of
Iraqi resistance? Has it been the weather? Has it been poor advice at
the beginning of the campaign, or is it a military question?
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: Well, you know, in the previous two
campaigns in which I've been involved -- Kosovo and Afghanistan
-- you reach this particular point where people start asking -- ask
us to speculate on exactly how much time it takes to get the job done.
The important thing is the job will be done. There is no point in
entering into a speculation of how long it takes except to say we have
been, I think, just under a week into this conflict. Now, because of
the way it's reported, you've got this constant 24-hours-a-day media,
it may seem to people that it's a lot longer than just under a week.
But actually, it's just under a week. And in just under a week, there
is a massive amount that has already been achieved. I mean, after all,
coalition forces are within 50 miles of Baghdad, the southern oil
fields are secured, the west is protected from external aggression,
we've got forces going into the north.
Now, we will carry on until the job is done. But there is
absolutely no point, in my view, of trying to set a time limit or
speculate on it, because it's not set by time, it's set by the nature
of the job. All I would do, though, is point out to you that within
those six or seven days, actually an enormous amount has already been
I think it's also important just to make one other point, which is
we have very deliberately wanted to do this in a way that protects the
future of the Iraqi people, too. And that's one reason why we went
immediately in to secure the oil installations in the south. If we
weren't able to do that, then the prospects of the Iraqi people for the
future would be blighted. That's why the air campaign has targeted
very, very specifically, as precisely as we possibly can, military
command and control, the aspects of Saddam's regime, not the civilian
So we're doing this in the way that we set it out to achieve our
objectives. We will achieve our objectives.
THE PRESIDENT: I have nothing more to add to that.
Q Mr. President, you've raised the possibility of holding
Iraqis accountable for war crimes. I'm wondering if now if you could
describe what war crimes you think they've committed to date. And
secondly, sir, should the Iraqis be prepared for U.S. retaliation with
nuclear weapons if they were to attack coalition forces with weapons of
THE PRESIDENT: You heard the Prime Minister eloquently talk about
the loss of British life. They were murdered, unarmed soldiers
executed. I mean, that's a war crime. But, you know, I'm not
surprised. This man, Saddam Hussein, has tortured and brutalized his
people for a long, long time.
We had reports the other day of a dissident who had his tongue cut
out and was tied to the stake in the town square, and he bled to
death. That's how Saddam Hussein retains power.
His sons are brutal, brutal people. They're barbaric in nature.
So I'm not surprised he's committing crimes against our soldiers. I'm
not surprised to hear stories about his thugs killing their own
citizens and trying to blame it on coalition forces. I'm not surprised
to know that regular army forces are trying to desert, but get blown
away by fellow Iraqi citizens. I'm not surprised, because the nature
of the man who has run the country for a long period of time.
If he uses weapons of mass destruction, that will just prove our
case. And we will deal with it. We've got one objective in mind:
That's victory. And we'll achieve victory.
Q -- (inaudible) --
THE PRESIDENT: Well, they've been sent a message in this war, too,
in that if you launch a weapon of mass destruction, you'll be tried as
a war criminal. And I urge those Iraqi generals who have any doubt of
our word to be careful, because we'll keep our word. We're going to
keep our word to the Iraqi people and we'll keep our word to those war
criminals in Iraq.
Q I'd like to break the rule, because I don't think we know the
details of why you're using this word "executed" about the British
servicemen. I would like if you could explain that.
But could I ask you both -- you both talked about the history,
the justness of the cause that you believe that this war is. Why is it
then, that if you go back to that history, if you go back over the last
century or, indeed, recent conflicts in your political careers, you
have not got the support of people who have been firm allies, like the
French, like the Germans, like the Turkish? Why haven't you got their
THE PRESIDENT: We've got a huge coalition. As a matter of fact,
the coalition that we've assembled today is larger than one assembled
in 1991 in terms of the number of nations participating. I'm very
pleased with the size of our coalition.
I was down yesterday at CENTCOM and met with many of the generals
from the countries represented in our coalition, and they're proud to
be side-by-side with our allies. This is a vast coalition that
believes in our cause, and I'm proud of their participation.
Q They're not Western allies. Why not?
THE PRESIDENT: We have plenty of Western allies. We've got -- I
mean, we can give you the list. Ally after ally after ally has stood
with us and continues to stand with us. And we are extremely proud of
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: Can I -- in relation to our soldiers, the
reason I used the language I did was because of the circumstances that
And the reason why I think it is important to recognize the
strength of our alliance -- yes, there are countries that disagree
with what we are doing. I mean, there's no point in hiding it; there's
been a division. And you obviously have to take and go and ask those
other countries why they're not with us, and they will give you the
reasons why they disagree. But I think what is important is to bear in
mind two things. First of all, there are an immense number of
countries that do agree with us. I mean, I hear people constantly say
to me, Europe is against what you're doing. That is not true. There
is a part of Europe that is against what we are doing. There are many
existing members of the European Union, and virtually all the new
members of the European Union, that strongly support what we are
doing. So there is a division, but we have many allies.
And the second point I'd make is this, that I understand why people
hesitate before committing to conflict and to war. War is a brutal and
a bloody business. But we are faced with the situation where Saddam
Hussein has been given 12 years to disarm voluntarily of weapons of
mass destruction, that the whole of the international community accepts
is a threat, and he has not done so. Instead, what we have had is 12
years in which he has remained in power with these weapons intact and
brutalized his own people.
Now, we felt we had come to the point where if we wanted to take a
stand against what I believe to be the dominant security threat of our
time -- which is the combination of weapons of mass destruction in the
hands of unstable, repressive states and terrorist groups -- if we
wanted to take a stand, then we had to act. And we went through the
diplomatic process. We tried to make the diplomatic process work, but
we weren't able to do so.
And the other reason why I think it is important that we act, and
why, indeed, we have many, many allies, is because people do know that
this is a brutal regime. That is not the reason for us initiating this
action -- that is in relation to weapons of mass destruction. But it
is a reason why, if we do so, as we are doing, we do so in the full
knowledge that we are, indeed, going to bring a better future for the
And if you just want one statistic -- although statistics I'm
afraid never have the same emotional appeal as pictures, but we don't
see these pictures of what has happened in Iraq in the past -- but
just one statistic: Over the past five years, 400,000 Iraqi children
under the age of five died of malnutrition and disease, preventively,
but died because of the nature of the regime under which they are
living. Now, that is why we're acting.
And, yes, there are divisions in the international community.
There are many people on our side, there are those that oppose us. But
that is for us, I'm afraid --
Q -- why do they --
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: Well, I'm afraid, Adam, that is a question
to ask to other people, as well as to us. All I can tell you is why we
are acting and why we believe our cause to be just. And, yes, at the
end of this whole process, we need to go back over it and ask why this
has happened. But I simply say to you that if the world walks away
from the security threat facing us, and if we back down and take no
action against Saddam, think of the signal that would have sent right
across the world to every brutal dictator, to every terrorist group.
Now, we believe that we had to act. Others have disagreed. As I
say, at some point, we will have to come back and we'll have to discuss
how the disagreement arose. But I have no doubt that we're doing the
right thing. I have no doubt that our cause is just, and I have no
doubt that, were we to walk away from this conflict at this time, we
would be doing a huge disservice to future generations.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all.
END 11:25 A.M. EST