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Blair Confident Evidence of Iraqi WMDs Will be Found - 2003-05-30

British Prime Minister Tony Blair says he has "absolutely no doubt" that evidence will be found of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Blair spoke during a visit to Poland.

Mr. Blair faced questions over the international community's failure so far to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, an issue that has already led to a political backlash in the United Kingdom.

The prime minister urged reporters to have more patience, saying he is confident that evidence will be found.

"We have only just begun the process now of investigating all the various sites," said Mr. Blair. "We have already found two trailers, both of which we believe were used for the production of biological weapons. But this is a process that is going to go on over the coming weeks and months. It is not the most urgent priority now for us, since Saddam is gone."

Britain and the United States used the issue of Iraq's alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction as the main justification for their invasion, and the ousting of Saddam Hussein.

But in recent days, new questions have been raised about the quality of intelligence reports on which that assessment was based. U.S. officials say they still believe Iraq had chemical and biological weapons, but U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said this week they may have been destroyed before the war.

On Friday, Prime Minister Blair denied allegations that his Cabinet fabricated or exaggerated evidence to gain support for an invasion of Iraq, calling such claims absurd. He said people who opposed the war are just trying to find reasons to say they were right.

Mr. Blair also said the focus now should be on rebuilding Iraq and providing for the humanitarian needs of its people.

The British prime minister spoke in Warsaw after meeting with his Polish counterpart Leszek Miller.

Poland is preparing for a referendum on its government's plan to join the European Union next year. Mr. Blair called on Poles to support the plan when they vote on June 7 and 8.

He also called for European countries that opposed the Iraq war to work to repair their relations with the United States. Poland and Britain were among the strongest European supporters of the war, and Poland is set to lead a European force to handle security in one sector of Iraq.

Prime Minister Blair has now left Poland, and President Bush is scheduled to arrive Friday night.