(CNN) -- The following is a transcript of remarks from British
Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President George W. Bush
at the White House Thursday.
once again a pleasure to welcome the prime minister,
Tony Blair, and Cheri Blair to the White House.
Minister, fabulous speech. Congratulations.
address this afternoon, Prime Minister Blair once again
showed the qualities that have marked his entire career.
Tony Blair is a leader of conviction, of passion, of
moral clarity and eloquence. He is a true friend of the
Kingdom has produced some of the world's most distinguished
statesmen, and I'm proud to be standing with one of them
partnership between the United States and Great Britain
has been and remains essential to the peace and security
of all nations. For more than 40 years of the Cold War,
we stood together to ensure that the conflicts of Europe
did not once again destroy the peace of the world.
we accepted were demanding, as we found during the Berlin
Blockade and other crises. Yet British and American leaders
held firm, and our cause prevailed.
are joined in another great and difficult mission. On
September the 11th, 2001, America, Britain and all free
nations saw how the ideologies of hatred and terror in
a distant part of the world could bring violence and
grief to our own citizens.
to fight these threats actively wherever they gather,
before they reach our shores. And we resolved to oppose
these threats by promoting freedom and democracy in the
Middle East, a region that has known so much bitterness
the outset, the prime minister and I have understood
that we are allies in this war, a war requiring great
effort and patience and fortitude.
and American peoples will hold firm once again and we
States and Great Britain have conducted a steady offensive
against terrorist networks and terror regimes. We are
dismantling the al Qaeda network leader by leader. And
we are hunting down the terrorist killers one by one.
we removed the cruel and oppressive regime that had turned
that country into a training camp for al Qaeda. And now
we are helping the Afghan people to restore their nation
and regain self- government.
the United States, Britain and other nations confronted
a violent regime that armed to threaten the peace, that
cultivated ties to terror and defied the clear demands
of the United Nations Security Council.
Hussein produced and possessed chemical and biological
weapons, and was trying to reconstitute his nuclear weapons
program. He used chemical weapons in acts of murder against
his own people.
Security Council, acting on information it had acquired
over many years, passed more than a dozen resolutions
demanding that the dictator reveal and destroy all of
his prohibited weapons. A final Security Council resolution
promised serious consequences if he continued his defiance.
dictator of Iraq chose his course of action and, for
the sake of peace and security, we chose ours.
minister and I have no greater responsibility than to
protect the lives and security of the people we serve.
of Saddam Hussein was a grave and growing threat. Given
Saddam's history of violence and aggression, it would
have been reckless to place our trust in his sanity or
as I hold this office I will never risk the lives of
American citizens by assuming the good will of dangerous
together, the United States, Great Britain and our coalition
partners enforced the demands of the world. We ended
the threat from Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.
We rid the Middle East of an aggressive destabilizing
regime. We liberated nearly 25 million people from decades
of oppression. And we are now helping the Iraqi people
to build a free nation.
as elsewhere, freedom and self-government are hated and
opposed by a radical and ruthless few. American, British
and other forces are facing remnants of a fallen regime
and other extremists. Their attacks follow a pattern.
They target progress and success. They strike at Iraqi
police officers who have been trained to enforce order.
They sabotage Iraqi power grids that we're rebuilding.
They are the enemies of the Iraqi people.
these terrorists is an essential commitment in the war
on terror. This is the duty we accept. This is the fight
we will win.
being tested in Iraq. Our enemies are looking for signs
of hesitation. They are looking for weakness. They will
find none. Instead, our forces in Iraq are finding these
killers and bringing them to justice.
will finish the task of helping Iraqis make the challenging
transition to democracy.
governing council is now meeting regularly. Soon the
council will nominate ministers and propose a budget.
After decades of tyranny, the institutions of democracy
will take time to create. America and Britain will help
the Iraqi people as long as necessary.
Minister Blair and I have the same goal: The government
and future of Iraq will be in the hands of the people
of a strong and stable Iraqi democracy is not easy, but
it's an essential part on the war against terror. A free
Iraq will be an example to the entire Middle East. And
the advance of liberty in the Middle East will undermine
the ideologies of terror and hatred and will help strengthen
the security of America and Britain and many other nations.
to build and secure a free Iraq, by accepting the risks
and sacrifice, our men and women in uniform are protecting
our own countries and they are giving essential service
in the war on terror. This is the work history has given
us, and we will complete it.
seeing movement toward reform and freedom in other parts
of the Middle East. The leadership and courage of Prime
Minister Abbas and Prime Minister Sharon are giving their
peoples new hope for progress.
nations can add to the momentum of peace by fighting
terror in all its forms. A Palestinian state will be
built upon hope and reform, not built upon violence.
are the chief enemies of Palestinian aspirations. The
sooner terrorism is rooted out by all the governments
in the region, the sooner the Palestinian flag will rise
over a peaceful Palestinian state.
of liberty in Afghanistan and Iraq and across the Middle
East will mark a hopeful turn in the history of our time.
Britain and America will achieve this goal together.
the reasons I'm confident in our success is because of
the character and the leadership of Prime Minister Tony
Thank you, Mr. President. And first of all, as I did
a short time ago, I would like to pay tribute to your
leadership in these difficult times, because ever since
September the 11th the task of leadership has been an
arduous one. And I believe that you have fulfilled it
with tremendous conviction, determination and courage.
Thank you, sir.
And I think it's as well that we understand how this
has all come about. It came about because we realized
that there was a new source of threat and insecurity
in our world that we had to counter.
I was saying in my speech to Congress, this threat is
sometimes hard for people to understand because it's
such a different nature than the threats we have faced
the 11th taught us it was real.
you lead countries, as we both do, and you see the potential
for this threat of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction
to come together, I really don't believe that any responsible
leader could ignore the evidence that we see and the
threat that we face.
why we've taken the action that we have, first in Afghanistan
and now in Iraq.
Afghanistan, we acted to remove the Taliban and we still
pursue the al Qaeda terrorist network there and in other
parts of the world. But there is no doubt at all that
but for that action al Qaeda would have retained its
central place of command and control which now is denied
respect of Iraq, we should not forget Resolution 1441
-- it was passed in the United Nations -- in which the
entire international community accepted the threat that
it's just worth pointing out, in these last few days
Iraq has had a governing council established with the
help of the United Nations representative, Sergio de
the last two weeks the United Nations has spoken about
the numbers of missing people and mass graves. And that
number, just on the present count, is around about 300,000
us be clear, we have been dealing with a situation in
which the threat was very clear and the person, Saddam
Hussein, wielding that threat, someone of total brutality
and ruthlessness with no compunction about killing his
own people or those of another nation. And, of course,
it's difficult to reconstruct Iraq. It's going to be
a hard task; we never expected otherwise.
the president has said to you a moment or two ago, the
benefit of that reconstruction will be felt far beyond
the territory of Iraq. It is, as I said earlier today,
an indispensable part of bringing a new settlement in
the whole of the Middle East.
would also pay tribute to the president's leadership
in the Middle East and in rekindling the prospect of
the Middle East peace process. And if I can remind people,
I think many people were cynical as to whether this could
ever be rekindled. Many people doubted whether the commitment
was there to fairness for Palestinian people as well
as the state of Israel.
the president has stated very clearly the goal of a two-
state solution, and now we actually have the first steps,
albeit tentative, towards achieving that.
I met Prime Minister Sharon in London a few nights ago,
I was more than ever convinced that if we can provide
the right framework within which these tentative steps
are made, then we do genuinely have the prospect of making
again as I was saying earlier, the commitment that America
has now given, that the president has given, in respect
of Africa and tackling some of the poorest parts of our
world, is again a sign of hope.
these things are changing our world. And however difficult
the change may be, I genuinely believe it is change for
am honored once again to be here in the White House with
you, Mr. President. As I said earlier, we are allies
and we are friends. And I believe that the work that
we are embarked upon is difficult but is essential. And
so far as we are concerned, we shall hold to it right
the way through.
We'll take a couple of questions.
Mr. President, others in your administration have said
that your words on Iraq and Africa did not belong in
your State of the Union address. Will you take responsibility
-- personal responsibility for those words?
the both of you, how is that two major world leaders
such as yourselves have had such a hard time persuading
other major powers to help stabilize Iraq?
Well, first, I take responsibility for putting our troops
into action. And I made that decision because Saddam
Hussein was a threat to our security, and a threat to
the security of other nations.
responsibility for making the decision, the tough decision,
to put together a coalition to remove Saddam Hussein,
because the intelligence -- not only our intelligence,
but the intelligence of this great country -- made a
clear and compelling case that Saddam Hussein was a threat
to security and peace.
that because he possessed chemical weapons and biological
weapons. I strongly believe he was trying to reconstitute
his nuclear weapons program. And I will remind the skeptics
that in 1991 it became clear that Saddam Hussein was
much closer to developing a nuclear weapon than anybody
a threat. I take responsibility for dealing with that
in a war against terror and we will continue to fight
that war against terror. We're after al Qaeda, as the
prime minister accurately noted. And we're dismantling
al Qaeda. The removal of Saddam Hussein is an integral
part of winning the war against terror.
Iraq will make it much less likely that we'll find violence
in that immediate neighborhood. A free Iraq will make
it more likely we'll get a Middle Eastern peace. A free
Iraq will have incredible influence on the states that
could potentially unleash terrorist activities on us.
And, yeah, I take responsibility for making the decisions
that I made.
First of all, before I answer the question you put to
me about other countries helping us, let me just say
this on the issue to do with Africa and uranium.
intelligence that we have we believe is genuine. We stand
by that intelligence.
interesting fact, I think, people don't generally know,
in case people should think that the whole idea of a
link between Iraq and Niger was some invention: In the
1980s we know for sure that Iraq purchased around about
270 tons of uranium from Niger. So I think we should
just factor that into our thinking there.
other countries, actually other countries are coming
with us now around about nine other countries, who will
be contributing or are contributing literally thousands
of troops. I think I'm right in saying the Poles, in
their sector, have somewhere in the region of 20 different
countries offering support. And I've got no doubt at
all we will have international support in this.
to be fair even to those countries that opposed the action,
I think they recognize the huge importance of reconstructing
is an interesting thing, I was at a European meeting
just a couple of weeks ago where, as you know, there
were big differences between people over the issue of
Iraq. And yet I was struck by the absolutely unanimous
view that whatever people felt about the conflict, it
was obviously good that Saddam was out. And most people
now recognize that the important thing is that we all
work together to reconstruct Iraq for the better, so
that it is a free and stable country.
I want to ask you both about one aspect of Iraq and freedom
and justice, which is, as you know, is causing a great
deal of concern in Britain and the British Parliament,
that is what happens now in Guantanamo Bay to the people
detained there, particularly whether there's any chance
that the president will return the British citizens to
face British justice, as John Walker Lindh faced regular
on a quick point, could the prime minister react to the
decision of the Foreign Affairs Committee tonight that
the BBC reporter, Andrew Gilligan, is a, quote, "unsatisfactory
You probably ought to comment on that one.
Well, can I just say to you on the first point, obviously,
this is an issue that we will discuss when we begin our
talks tonight. And we will put out a statement on that
tomorrow for you.
We will work with the Blair government on this issue.
And we're about to -- after we finish answering your
questions, we're going to go upstairs and discuss the
Do you have concerns that they'll get justice, the people
No, the only thing I know for certain is that these are
bad people. And we look forward to working closely with
the Blair government to deal with the issue.
On your other point, the issue here is very, very simple.
The whole debate for weeks revolved around a claim that
either I or a member of my staff had effectively inserted
intelligence into the dossier we put before the British
people against the wishes of the intelligence services.
is a serious charge.
was true. Everybody now knows that that charge is untrue.
And all we are saying is those who made that charge should
simply accept that it is untrue. It's as simple as that.
Mr. President, in his speech to Congress, the prime minister
opened the door to the possibility that you may be proved
wrong about the threat from Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
Do you agree? And does it matter whether or not you find...
Well, you might ask the prime minister that -- we won't
be proven wrong.
I believe that we will find the truth. And the truth
is he was developing a program for weapons of mass destruction.
you say, "Why didn't it happen all of a sudden?" Well,
there was a lot of chaos in the country, one. Two, Saddam
Hussein has spent over a decade hiding weapons and hiding
materials. Three, we're getting, we're just beginning
to get some cooperation from some of the high-level officials
in that administration, or that regime.
will bring the weapons, and, of course, we will bring
the information forward on the weapons when they find
end up -- end all this speculation.
understand, there's been a lot of speculation over in
Great Britain, we got a little bit of it here, about
whether or not the -- whether or not the actions were
based upon valid information.
debate that all day long until the truth shows up. And
that's what's going to happen.
based our decisions on good, sound intelligence, and
the -- our people are going to find out the truth. And
the truth will say that this intelligence was good intelligence;
there's no doubt in my mind.
Yes, if I could just -- if I could just correct you on
one thing, I certainly did not say that I be would proved
wrong. On the contrary, I said with every fiber of instinct
and conviction I believe that we are right.
me just say this one other thing to you, because sometimes,
again, in the debate in the past few weeks it's as if
prior to the early part of this year the issue of Saddam
Hussein and weapons of mass destruction was some sort
of unknown quantity, and on the basis of some speculative
intelligence we go off and take action.
The history of Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction
is a 12-year history, and is a history of him using the
weapons and developing the weapons and concealing the
weapons and not complying with the United Nations inspectors
who were trying to shut down his programs.
simply say -- which is why I totally agree with the president
-- it's important we wait for the Iraq survey group to
complete their work. Because the proposition that actually
he was not developing such weapons and such programs
rests on this rather extraordinary proposition: that
having for years obstructed the United Nations inspectors
and concealed his programs, having finally effectively
got rid of them in December '98, he then took all the
problems and sanctions and action upon himself, voluntarily
destroyed them but just didn't tell anyone.
think that's very likely as a proposition. I really don't.
Mr. President, do you realize that many people hearing
you say that we know these are bad people in Guantanamo
Bay will merely fuel their doubts that the United States
regards them as innocent until proven guilty and do a
fair, free and open trial?
Let me just say, these were illegal combatants. They
were picked up off the battlefield aiding and abetting
the Taliban. I'm not trying to try them in front of your
cameras or in your newspaper.
will talk with the prime minister about this issue. He's
asked -- prior to his arrival, said, "I want to
talk about this in a serious way. Can we work with you?" And
the answer is, "Absolutely."
the issue. And we will. We'll have a very good discussion
about it right after he finishes answering this aspect
of your question.
I just think you should realize -- I mean, of course,
as I said a moment or two ago, we will discuss this together
and we'll put out a statement for you tomorrow.
think, again, it's important just to realize the context
in which all this arises, without saying anything about
any specific case at all. And the context was a situation
in which the al Qaeda and the Taliban were operating
together in Afghanistan against American and British
I say, we will discuss this issue, we will come back
to it and you'll have a statement tomorrow.
want to say just in concluding, once again, that the
conviction that this threat of terrorism and weapons
of mass destruction is the security threat our world
faces has never left me. It's with me now. And I believe
it to be the threat that we have to take on and defeat.
I really do.
Good job. Thank you. Appreciate your country.