US praises outgoing British prime minister
May 10, 2007 - 9:08:40 PM

Washington, May 10 - The White House Thursday described outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair as 'an extraordinary leader' and a friend and ally of the United States.

'Tony Blair has been an extraordinary leader of the United Kingdom. He and the president are strong friends and allies,' White House spokesman Tony Snow said.

'Also, the prime minister has demonstrated the ability to work with presidents of both parties and to maintain a long tradition of an alliance that is of extraordinary strategic importance,' Snow said.

Blair, a staunch US ally, has close relations with US President George W. Bush as well as Bush's predecessor, Bill Clinton of the Democratic Party. However, Blair has divided Britain for his decision to join the US-led Iraq war in 2003.

Blair announced Thursday that he will step down as prime minister on June 27 and defended his decision to join the Iraq war. 'I did what I thought was right for our country,' he said in a public speech.

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