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Blair, Bush Meet at White House - 2004-04-16


President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair are meeting at the White House at this hour for talks expected to focus on the situation in Iraq.

Mr. Blair is facing public pressure to confront President Bush over U.S. tactics in Iraq, where U.S. forces have been battling insurgents.

Mr. Blair has dispelled reports of a rift with Mr. Bush, telling reporters on Thursday that he and the president share a common aim and purpose in Iraq.

But two former top British officials have said publicly that U.S. military operations against insurgents in Iraq have been excessively violent and counterproductive.

The British military's former assistant chief of staff, Timothy Garden, says U.S. actions are undermining attempts to promote the rule of law in Iraq.

And former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook says the United States is still waging a war in the country rather than trying to establish peace. Mr. Cook told the BBC Thursday that Mr. Blair would be a "false friend" if he did not tell Mr. Bush that his policies will lead to greater problems for the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.

A White House spokesman said other topics of the Bush-Blair meeting will likely include Afghanistan and Israel's so-called "disengagement" plan from the Palestinians..

Thursday, Mr. Blair said the United Nations should play a key role in Iraq's transition to sovereignty. He said a new U.N. Security Council resolution is required, to allow a smooth political transition in Baghdad.

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