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Sunday, 8 September, 2002, 11:22 GMT 12:22 UK
Blair and Bush talk tough on Iraq
Tony Blair and George W Bush
Blair is Bush's closest ally on Iraq
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said he and US President George W Bush have a "shared strategy" on Iraq, based on a determination that the country's weapons of mass destruction must be destroyed.

It's important that we get on and deal with it, because these issues are pressing

Tony Blair
After three hours of what he called "excellent" talks at the president's Camp David retreat, Mr Blair said that they would seek "the broadest possible international support".

President Bush is due to address the United Nations on Thursday in a speech US officials say will demand fast, decisive action from the international body.

On Saturday two key European leaders, French President Jacques Chirac and Germany's Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, reaffirmed their opposition to a "unilateral US attack" on Iraq, after talks in Hanover.

I don't know what more evidence we need

George W Bush
The German chancellor has repeatedly stated his opposition to a US-led military attack on Iraq, even if approved by the United Nations.

Mr Chirac believes an attack on Iraq could not be justified without the support of the UN Security Council.

Pressing issues

Prior to his talks with Mr Blair, President Bush said that satellite photographs released by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency showed clear evidence that Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction.

Young Iraqi cadets jump through hoops
Iraqi cadets are preparing for possible action (AP)
The pictures show new construction work at several locations which, in the past, have been linked to Iraqi nuclear weapons' projects.

"I don't know what more evidence we need," said Mr Bush.

Both the US and UK Governments say they have proof Iraq has biological and chemical weapons and the potential for a nuclear capability.

Mr Blair has promised to publish a dossier showing this in a few weeks' time.

On Sunday, former UN arms inspector Scott Ritter, now a severe critic of US policy, addressed the Iraqi parliament in Baghdad.

Nothing could justify an attack against Iraq based on its current behaviour, Mr Ritter told deputies.

But the only way to avoid war was to allow UN weapons inspectors back in and give them unfettered access, he said.

Veto fear

BBC correspondents travelling with Mr Blair say the fact that both leaders laid considerable stress on the dangers of Iraq developing nuclear weapons shows a desire to convince other countries to back swift action against Baghdad.

"It's important that we get on and deal with it, because these issues are pressing," said Mr Blair.

The prime minister arrived back in Britain on Sunday morning at Aberdeen airport and went to a scheduled meeting with the Queen at her Highland residence, Balmoral.

He is expected to brief senior MPs over the coming weeks on the plans for Iraq and will also refer to the issue in a speech to the Trades Union Congress on Tuesday.

Mr Blair will tell delegates that while the UN should deal with the problem, Saddam could not be allowed to flout its resolutions "year after year, after year".

Mr Bush and Mr Blair have been trying to enlist the support of the other permanent members of the Security Council - Russia, France and China - for military action.

Any one of them could veto a UN resolution backing such action.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin told Mr Bush on Friday that he had "serious doubts" about military action.

Regime change

But Mr Bush maintains that he has "a lot of support" for the removal of Saddam Hussein.

"There's all kinds of ways to change regimes," he said.

"This man is a man who said he was going to get rid of weapons of mass destruction, and for 11 long years he has not fulfilled his promise."

In an interview with the BBC's Breakfast with Frost programme, US Secretary of State Colin Powell has admitted differences remained within the Bush administration over whether to launch a military attack on Iraq.

"The president has not decided to undertake military action," Mr Powell said.

He said President George W Bush's advisers "all have lots of views and we all communicate in different ways," adding that the president was "examining all our options - political, diplomatic, military".

Matt Gardner reports
"Mr Blair will now turn his attention to Parliament and persuade MPs he is not leading Britain into a blind war"
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair:
"We believe that this is a problem for the whole of the international community"
Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter
"There are no substantial facts which back up the allegations"

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See also:

08 Sep 02 | Politics
08 Sep 02 | Middle East
08 Sep 02 | Middle East
07 Sep 02 | Politics
07 Sep 02 | Politics
06 Sep 02 | Middle East
04 Sep 02 | Middle East
05 Sep 02 | Americas
06 Sep 02 | World
07 Sep 02 | Media reports
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