Britain will remain US ally in Iraq: Blair
May 17, 2007 - 11:40:45 PM

Washington, May 17 - British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Thursday that Britain will remain a US ally in the war in Iraq in the months ahead despite his plans to soon step down from office.

'We will remain a staunch and steadfast ally in the fight against terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere,' Blair said during his farewell visit with US President George W. Bush at the White House.

Blair strongly backed Bush's decision to invade Iraq in March 2003 and contributed British troops to the effort. Blair's support for the war has weighed on him politically at home as he prepares to leave office June 27.

He acknowledged the security challenges facing US and British troops in Iraq, calling the problems there 'immensely difficult' but noted progress on reconciliation between Sunnis and Shias.

'We have in Iraq at the moment a situation where there is a renewed attempt to find political reconciliation, between Sunni and Shia particularly,' Blair said. 'And I believe there are signs, real and genuine signs, of progress there.'

Bush and Blair insisted they will work closely together to tackle a host of international issues, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the violence in Sudan's Darfur region, the dispute over Iran's nuclear activities and climate change, despite Blair's limited time in office.

'We got a lot of work to do until he finishes,' Bush said. 'He's going to sprint to the wire.'

Blair's visit to Washington was his last planned trip as Britain's leader, but the two men will meet again at the June 6-8 G8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany.

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