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Blair Calls for Reconciliation in International Community


British Prime Minister Tony Blair says, now should be a moment for reconciliation, not only in Iraq, but in the international community as well. In a speech Friday at Georgetown University in Washington, Mr. Blair addressed some of the challenges facing the world community.

Mr. Blair was in Washington for talks with President Bush, just days after meeting with Iraq's new government in Baghdad. In his remarks Friday, the British leader said, in the three years since Saddam Hussein was ousted, Iraq has seen bloodshed and strife, but, in spite of that, a democratic political process is now growing, and he urged the world to support it.

"This is a child of democracy struggling to be born. They and we, the international community are the midwives," said Mr. Blair.

Mr. Blair said terrorism in Iraq is the same as in the rest of the world. He said the terrorists hope to defeat not just democracy in Iraq, but democratic values everywhere.

"They kill ordinary Iraqis for wanting to join the police, or build their country, or just for being of one religious persuasion not another," he added. "Theirs is a strategy drenched in the blood of the innocent. Should their determination to do evil eclipse our desire to do good?"

Turning to the wider Middle East, Mr. Blair urged a resolution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, saying the only possible solution is two-states living side-by-side. He said the only route to such an outcome is if the Hamas-led Palestinian government rejects violence and accepts the international Road Map peace plan.

Looking beyond the Middle East, the prime minister said the world must act to end global poverty, especially in Africa, as well end unfair trade practices and protect the environment.

"If we believe in our responsibility to the generations that come after us, how can we knowingly be indifferent to the degradation of the planet we live on? How can we have a global trading system based on unfair trade?" he asked.

During his two-days in Washington, Mr. Blair and President Bush held a working dinner Thursday night at the White House to discuss Iraq. The two leaders also met for lunch Friday.

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