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Bush, Blair Defend Decision to go to War in Iraq - 2003-07-17


President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have staunchly defended their decision to go to war in Iraq.

In a joint press conference at the White House Thursday, the two leaders deflected criticism that no weapons of mass destruction have been found and said they will be proven right about Iraq's weapons program.

Mr. Bush also said he takes full responsibility for creating a coalition to liberate the Iraqi people. He said the United States is in a war on terror, and removing Saddam Hussein was key to winning the war. President Bush said the United States will never "assume the good will of dangerous enemies"

Mr. Blair dismissed criticism that the United States and Britain are alone in post-war Iraq. He said at least nine other countries are contributing troops or offering support.

Earlier Thursday, the British prime minister told the U.S. Congress he believes with what he called "every fiber of instinct and conviction" that coalition forces were right in going into Iraq.

In an emotional address to a joint meeting of the Senate and House of Representatives, Mr. Blair said coalition troops should stay in Iraq until the job is done.

Mr. Blair also told Congress some Middle Eastern countries are actively funding terrorists, and there can be no compromise with terrorism.

He thanked lawmakers for voting to award him the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor given to a foreign leader.