Bush, Blair Affirm Commitments in Middle East, Africa
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 8, 2005 The United States and Great Britain share a common commitment to spreading peace and freedom in the world and are working together to promote that vision - in Iraq, Afghanistan, the greater Middle East and Africa, the leaders of the two countries affirmed during a news conference here June 7.
U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair hold a joint press conference in the East Room June 7. "Prime Minister Blair and I share a common vision of a world that is free, prosperous, and at peace," said Bush. Photo by Paul Morse
(Click photo for screen-resolution image)
"Our alliance with Great Britain is strong, and it's essential to peace and security," President Bush told reporters at the White House.
It's a commitment Bush said has remained constant between the two countries. "Together, our two nations worked to liberate Europe from fascism. Together, we defended freedom during the Cold War."
Today, the United States and Great Britain "are standing together again to fight the war on terror, to secure democracy and freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan and the broader Middle East, and to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction," Bush said. "As we face the challenges and opportunities of a new century, our alliance is stronger than ever."
Bush said he and British Prime Minister Tony Blair share a common vision of a world "that is free, prosperous and at peace."
"When men and women are free to choose their own governments, to speak their own minds and to pursue a good life for their families, they build a strong, prosperous and just society," he said.
This is the vision the Iraqis chose during their Jan. 30 elections, the president said, affirming the two countries' ongoing commitment in helping them build a democratic future and take responsibility for their own security.
"Our strategy is clear," Bush said. "We're training Iraqi forces so they can take the fight to the enemy, so they can defend their country. And then our troops will come home with the honor they have earned."
Blair praised the work of the U.S., British and coalition troops in Iraq, who he said are doing "a magnificent job" in circumstances that are often "very, very difficult."
"And yet it is absolutely vital, for the security not just of that country and of that region, but of the world, that we succeed in Iraq," he said.
"What's at stake is the ability of Iraq ... to function properly as a democracy, run for the good of its people," Blair said. "And our help in ensuring that Iraq can attain that goal is of vital importance, not just to our countries, but to the future of the world."
Spreading freedom throughout the broader Middle East will help end "the bitterness and hatred that feed the ideology of terror," Bush said.
The two nations also share a commitment to helping the people of Africa build strong democratic institutions and healthy economies, Bush said. Over the past four years, the United States has tripled its assistance to sub-Saharan Africa, and now provides nearly one-fourth of all aid to the region, he said.
More support, including measures to forgive debt among the region's poorest countries, will be among issues discussed at the July 6 G8 conference in Scotland.