New British leader Brown stands with Bush on Iraq
CAMP DAVID, Md. — British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on July 30 strongly backed the U.S.led war in Iraq and said the global war against terror looms as a “generation-long battle.”
Despite news reports that the new prime minister quietly was looking to withdraw about 5,500 British troops from Iraq, Mr. Brown said he remains committed to seeing the war to its end.
“In Iraq, we have duties to discharge and responsibilities to keep, in support of the democratically elected government, and in support of the explicit will of the international community,” Mr. Brown said at a joint Camp David press conference with Mr. Bush during his first official trip to the United States.
While the prime minister also has labeled the recent car-bomb attacks in London as merely “criminal” — not terrorist — and appeared to downplay what Mr. Bush calls the “global war against terror,” Mr. Brown said he shares the view of former Prime Minister Tony Blair that the Western world is locked in an ideological battle.
“So we are at one in fighting the battle against terrorism, and that struggle is one that we will fight with determination and with resilience, and right across the world,” he said. “We’re in a generation-long battle against terrorism, against al Qaedainspired terrorism, and this is a bat- tle for which we can give no quarter. It’s a battle that’s got to be fought in military, diplomatic, intelligence, security, policing and ideological terms.”
Mr. Bush sought to show he supports the new prime minister, despite talk over the last few weeks from some junior British ministers that Mr. Brown was seeking a more dis- tant relationship with the president.
“He gets it,” Mr. Bush said of Mr. Brown. “There’s no doubt in my mind that Gordon Brown understands that failure in Iraq would be a disaster for the security of our own countries. He understands that violence could spill out across the region, that a country like Iran would become emboldened.”
The personal chemistry between the two leaders, however, is unlike the warm relationship Mr. Bush enjoyed with Mr. Blair, who stepped down last month. Mr. Brown, the son of a Scottish preacher, stood with his hands clasped throughout the press conference and offered few smiles.
wondering whether or not the prime minister and I were able to find common ground, to get along, to have a meaningful discussion,” Mr. Bush said at the outset. “And the answer is ‘Absolutely.’ ”
Mr. Bush, who frowned and squinted and also looked grim, sought to lighten the mood when, asked what they talked about, he joked “besides toothpaste?” — a reference to his first meeting with Mr. Blair, when he told reporters the two were so alike that they even used the same Colgate brand.
Mr. Brown laughed at that, but he was not as smooth as Mr. Blair, widely viewed as the war’s most articulate spokesman, and referred often to his prepared text.
Mr. Bush gave the British leader the U.S. equivalent of royal treatment: Inviting him to the presidential retreat and serving him American fare, including a lunch of cheeseburgers and french fries. The two reportedly talked privately late into the night on July 29.
Both men made it clear that they share a united front on Iraq, and each said the U.S.-British relationship is paramount. But Mr. Brown gave no promises on how long Britain would keep its forces in Iraq, saying only that a decision to hand over control for security in Basra province to Iraqi forces would be based on military advice.
Britain already has handed over security control to Iraqi forces in three of the provinces for which it had responsibility.
Concur: President Bush and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown held a joint press conference at Camp David on July 30. They made it clear that they share a united front on Iraq, and each said the U.S.-British relationship is paramount.