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Blair En Route to Washington For Meetings with Bush, US Congress - 2003-07-17

British Prime Minister Tony Blair is on his way to Washington to address the U.S. Congress and meet with President Bush. The talks will cover a range of issues.

Spokesman Scott McClellan says they will discuss Iraq, the Middle East, the war on terrorism, and other topics.

The meeting takes place at a time when both men are dealing with claims they exaggerated intelligence findings to hype the need for military action against Iraq.

Mr. Blair has defended his position before Parliament, where opposition party members have accused him of misleading them and the British people.

Similar comments about the Bush administration are beginning to come from Democrats in the U.S. Congress, with some lawmakers calling for an investigation of all the evidence concerning Iraq made public before the war.

The White House is clearly hoping the controversy will not overshadow Tony Blair's visit to Washington. Spokesman McClellan says the president and the prime minister want to focus on confronting the threats now facing their countries, adding their highest responsibility is to protect the people they serve.