President Bush says he is not concerned about mass anti-war protests when he visits Britain next week. He made the remarks to British journalists in interviews at the White House.
President Bush says he accepts that there are strong anti-war sentiments in Britain, where a poll this week indicated 60 percent of respondents disapprove of his handling of Iraq.
"I can understand people not liking war. … I don't like war," he said. "War is the last choice a president should make, not the first."
He said the war in Iraq only came about after what he described as "endless years of diplomacy."
And he told British television that he and British Prime Minister Tony Blair are determined to defeat the terrorists and Saddam Hussein loyalists who continue to attack coalition forces in Iraq.
"We're making progress. That's not to say it's not tough, of course it's tough," the president said. "But [what] they want to do, they want to shake the will of the free world. And the good news about having a partner like Tony Blair is, he won't be shaken, see, and neither will I."
Britain's Stop The War coalition expects tens of thousands of anti-Bush protesters to demonstrate during the president's four-day visit, which begins Tuesday.
London police have canceled all leave, and will mount an elaborate security plan to protect Mr. Bush, who will stay at Buckingham Palace as a guest of Queen Elizabeth.
On other topics, Mr. Bush said the U.S. military will remain in Iraq and Afghanistan, in his words, "until the job is done." He said that includes finding the former Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, and al-Qaida terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, and helping the two countries build free and democratic societies.
The president played down the prospect of an Iraq-style military confrontation with Iran or North Korea over their nuclear programs. He called the case in Iraq "unique," and said not all situations require a military solution.
The president thanked Britain, France and Germany for the diplomatic effort that has resulted in Iran promising to meet its international nuclear control obligations.
And he said the United States will continue to work with China, Russia, South Korea and Japan to convince North Korea to abandon its effort to develop nuclear weapons.