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Blair, Bush Voice Support For UN Role in Iraq - 2004-04-16

President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have given clear signals of support for U.N. efforts to establish a new and democratic Iraqi government.

Speaking to reporters at the White House Friday, Mr. Bush said U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has identified a way forward in Iraq that he said is "broadly acceptable" to the Iraqi people.

Mr. Blair said the United Nations will have a central place in creating the machinery for the transition to democracy.

Both leaders said the scheduled June 30 handover of sovereignty in Iraq to an interim Iraqi government will go forward as planned.

Mr. Bush said after that date, the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq will cease to exist. He said coalition forces will stay in Iraq to help the new government succeed.

Before Friday's meeting, Mr. Blair faced public pressure to confront Mr. Bush over U.S. tactics in Iraq, where U.S. forces have been battling insurgents.

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.

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.