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Bush Heads to N. Ireland For Summit With Blair

President Bush heads to Northern Ireland Monday for talks with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. It is their third summit in less than a month.

President Bush and Prime Minister Blair speak to each other almost daily, and they are occasionally crossing the Atlantic to speak face-to-face.

They met in the Portuguese Azores on March 16, just days before the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and again at Camp David, the U.S. presidential retreat, a little over a week ago.

This time, the site for their talks is a castle near Belfast, and their agenda is expanding, although Iraq will still dominate their talks. But they will also devote time to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And they will be joined for the final hours of their discussions by leaders of the various factions in Northern Ireland for a look at local peace efforts.

Most of the meetings will take place in private, with a press conference scheduled for Tuesday. With troops from the U.S.-led coalition on the move in and around Baghdad, many of the questions are likely to focus on the future - specifically, the administration of post-war Iraq.

Tony Blair is pushing for a prominent role for the United Nations. But the Bush administration says the coalition should lead immediate post-war reconstruction efforts.

White House officials say they want U.N. involvement, but they make clear they believe the Security Council, which did not expressly authorize the war to disarm Iraq, should not take over when the conflict ends. During a recent briefing for reporters, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said the coalition has given "life and blood" to the war effort, and the role of the United Nations is a matter for negotiations.

Ms. Rice is expected to join the president in Belfast after a quick trip Sunday to Moscow for talks with Russian officials who oppose the war with Iraq. On Saturday, President Bush spoke by telephone with Russian President Vladimir Putin.