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Iraq: Bush, Blair Emphatically Defend Decision To Topple Hussein

Washington, 18 July 2003 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have vigorously defended their decision to topple Saddam Hussein, saying they are convinced the ousted Iraqi regime did amass weapons of mass destruction. Bush said at a White House news conference last night that as long as he is president he will never risk the lives of Americans "by assuming the good will of dangerous enemies."

Earlier, in a speech to the U.S. Congress, Blair said history will forgive the United States and Britain for invading Iraq even if it turns out that charges of Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction were wrong.

"Can we be sure that terrorism and weapons of mass destruction will join together? Let us say one thing. If we are wrong we will have destroyed a threat that at its least is responsible for inhuman carnage and suffering," Blair said

No weapons of mass destruction have been found so far. The issue has been a major justification by the two countries for going to war.

In his speech, Blair said the coalition has promised a democratic Iraq and that pledge will be delivered. The prime minister also said international terrorism will not be defeated without achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians. He called on the entire Arab world to recognize Israel and stop teaching hatred. At the same time, Blair said the suffering of innocent Palestinians must also stop.