New Bri­tish leader Brown stands with Bush on Iraq

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Joseph Curl

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.

“So,

ev­ery­one’s

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.

As­so­ci­ated Press

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.

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