Statement issued by US President George W. Bush, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar at their summit meeting in the Azores, 16 March 2003.
A vision for the Iraqi people
Iraq's talented people, rich culture, and tremendous potential have been hijacked by Saddam Hussein.
His brutal regime has reduced a country with a long and proud history to an international pariah that oppresses its citizens, started two wars of aggression against its neighbours, and still poses a grave threat to the security of its region and the world.
Saddam's defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions demanding the disarmament of his nuclear, chemical, biological, and long-range missile capacity has led to sanctions on Iraq and has undermined the authority of the UN.
For 12 years, the international community has tried to persuade him to disarm and thereby avoid military conflict, most recently through the unanimous adoption of UNSCR [United Nations Security Council Resolution] i1441.
The responsibility is his. If Saddam refuses even now to cooperate fully with the United Nations, he brings on himself the serious consequences foreseen in UNSCR 1441 and previous resolutions.
In these circumstances, we would undertake a solemn obligation to help the Iraqi people build a new Iraq at peace with itself and its neighbours. The Iraqi people deserve to be lifted from insecurity and tyranny, and freed to determine for themselves the future of their country.
We envisage a unified Iraq with its territorial integrity respected. All the Iraqi people - its rich mix of Sunni and Shiite Arabs, Kurds, Turkomen, Assyrians, Chaldeans, and all others - should enjoy freedom, prosperity, and equality in a united country. We will support the Iraqi people's aspirations for a representative government that upholds human rights and the rule of law as cornerstones of democracy.
Oil and terror
We will work to prevent and repair damage by Saddam Hussein's regime to the natural resources of Iraq and pledge to protect them as a national asset of and for the Iraqi people.
All Iraqis should share the wealth generated by their national economy. We will seek a swift end to international sanctions, and support an international reconstruction program to help Iraq achieve real prosperity and reintegrate into the global community.
We will fight terrorism in all its forms. Iraq must never again be a haven for terrorists of any kind.
In achieving this vision, we plan to work in close partnership with international institutions, including the United Nations; our Allies and partners; and bilateral donors. If conflict occurs, we plan to seek the adoption, on an urgent basis, of new United Nations Security Council resolutions that would affirm Iraq's territorial integrity, ensure rapid delivery of humanitarian relief, and endorse an appropriate post-conflict administration for Iraq.
We will also propose that the Secretary General be given authority, on an interim basis, to ensure that the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people continue to be met through the [UN] Oil for Food programme.
Any military presence, should it be necessary, will be temporary and intended to promote security and elimination of weapons of mass destruction; the delivery of humanitarian aid; and the conditions for the reconstruction of Iraq.
Our commitment to support the people of Iraq will be for the long term. We call upon the international community to join with us in helping to realise a better future for the Iraqi people.