Bush, Blair Build 'An Alliance That Will Stand the Test of Time'
(CNSNews.com) - During a presidential retreat at Camp David Friday, President George W. Bush, after his first meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, said he is confident that the two have formed a strong alliance. "This is a chance for me to tell the prime minister how dedicated my administration will be to an alliance that has made a huge difference in the world. An alliance that I firmly believe will make a difference in the years to come," said Bush.
"Our countries have stood together in some very difficult times, very hard times, some of the most testing times the world has ever known, and the reason we've come through those times together and stronger, is because we share the same values, we share the same interests and a lot of common interest," said Blair.
The two discussed trade, defense and the prime minister's vision of a strong NATO, Bush said.
When questioned on the issue of the Bush administration's national missile defense system, Blair said, "I understand and share the concern of the president and the American administration of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear proliferation. And I think it's very important in that context that we discuss all the ways that we deal with this threat, which is a real threat and a pressing threat."
Blair said he welcomes "very much the position that the [Bush] administration has taken, which is to be very open about this, which is to talk to people about it, to make sure that allies are consulted properly."
In response to the question of whether or not Bush will go ahead with the missile defense system alone if he doesn't receive the backing of the British or other allies, Bush said, "I don't think I'm gonna fail to persuade people. It's common sensical to say to our friends, 'let's come together, work together, develop a defense against the true threats of the 21st century'."
Blair said there's "no specific proposal on the table yet", but "it's important that we look at every single way we possibly can of dealing with this threat."
The two had a long discussion on the issue, Bush said, and he "made the case like I will do to all the leaders with whom I meet, that we need to think differently about the post-Cold War era, that there are new threats that face people who love freedom.
"They're the threats of an accidental launch of a missile. They're the threats of potential blackmail when one of these nations develops weapons of mass destruction and be willing point it at America, Britain, our allies, people with whom we've got commitments. And we've got to deal that in a realistic way."
Bush said Blair also assured him that the European defense will in no way undermine the efforts of NATO. The two also agreed on the issue of sanctions against Iraq. Blair said when is comes to sanctions, they need to make sure they hit Saddam Hussein directly.