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(photo credit: AP [file])
Standing alongside British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a staunch American ally due to leave office this summer, US President George W. Bush Thursday urged the international community to stay united against Iran's quest for a nuclear weapon.
"We fully recognize that the Iranians must not have a nuclear weapon. And therefore it's important to continue to work in the international arena to speak with one voice," Bush said of his meetings with Blair. The two leaders held a last joint press conference in the White House Rose Garden Thursday morning.
Blair himself didn't highlight the threat posed by Iran. Instead, after addressing Iraq and Afghanistan in his remarks on the Middle East, Blair said that "the important thing is how we make progress towards the two-state solution, which is the only solution in the end that will offer a realistic prospect and progress in that region."
Bush, in his comments about their meetings, spent more time discussing the Palestinian-Israeli conflict than any other single issue, highlighting the plight of Palestinians. Blair has focused on Palestinian suffering in the past and urged the United States to push for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
"The prime minister and I discussed the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people. We recognized the deep humiliation that can come as a result of living in a land where you can't move freely, and where people can't realize dreams," Bush said, adding, "We talked about the need to reject and fight terrorism. We understand the fright that can come when you're worried about a rocket landing on top of your home."
Bush noted his commitment to establishing peace in the Middle East and stressed that he has instructed US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to be "actively engaged," adding that "she represents the position of the Bush government, which is two states living side by side in peace."
His comments came after speculation that the White House doesn't fully support Rice or back her efforts at greater US engagement in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Both leaders used the question and answer session to stress the importance of the US-British alliance, their country's shared values, and need to fight Islamic terrorism.
Questioned on whether British participation in the campaign in Iraq would weaken once Blair, a strong supporter of the war despite its unpopularity at home, left office, Blair declared, "I believe that we will remain a staunch and steadfast ally in the fight against terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere."