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Breakfast with Frost
Will Farish, US Ambassador in London
Will Farish, US Ambassador in London
BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW: WILL FARISH U.S. AMBASSADOR IN LONDON MARCH 23rd, 2003

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST: Living as one world - well Britain's relations with America have been crucial for many months now - years - ever since the turn of the last century. As America's most staunch ally Britain has given America some cover, they've not been totally isolated in their determination to confront Saddam Hussein militarily because we've been there too. Those who back the Prime Minister's position have talked about his restraining influence on President Bush. Now that war is underway - Britain and America are locked together for better or worse and the US Ambassador, the highly respected and incredibly well informed Will Farish is here with us this morning. Will, welcome. I was just think there, it's an irony isn't it - we're in the situation of war and we have two leaders who actually, like the Bishop, are two of the strongest Christians that there's ever been in the White House or No. 10 Downing Street - faced with war now.

WILL FARISH: That's absolutely right. But I think that they, as you well know, have studied this, have been concerned about it for so many months and feel passionate about what they're doing.

DAVID FROST: And just a word about the potential tragedy this morning, of the RAF plane that may have been downed by friendly fire. This happens in war but it's terrible isn't it?

WILL FARISH: It's absolutely terrible. Friendly fire is something that we've lived with for ages through wars but to have it happen in a way like this is very sad.

DAVID FROST: Looking at the rest of the military situation, and we appreciate that anyone close to that, being on that plane, there is no other war, but looking at the overall situation today, is the view in Washington that things, apart from that, that things are going according to plan? Better than planned, or a little slower than planned?

WILL FARISH: No I think, David, that it's going according to plan. Tommy Franks yesterday gave a detailed analysis of where we were. I think last night we progressed further on, our ground troops are moving in the right direction. They're moving probably quicker than originally planned, the aerial bombardment has been pinpoint accuracy, fantastically well done.

DAVID FROST: And in terms of the timing, do you think that this war will be over sooner than we feared, or it may take longer? It's always dangerous to be over-confident of course, but I mean, do you think things are moving more quickly towards a conclusion?

WILL FARISH: It's very hard to tell, you know, it's, again we heard from General Franks yesterday explaining this. We're moving forward, we don't know really what we're going to encounter when we get to Baghdad with our ground troops but it's not going to be a long lived battle, then I think that's about all we can say at this point.

DAVID FROST: Do you think that there is a role for the UN, or has that emerged wounded? Do you think there's a role for the UN in the latter day Baghdad?

WILL FARISH: Certainly. I think the President and the Prime Minister have both agreed that the UN will be involved - there'll be a role for them in this. This is an issue that has been discussed really since September when the President and the Prime Minister met at Camp David, and it has been reworked and reworked, and will continue to be until the war is over. But certainly there'll be a role for the UN.

DAVID FROST: And in terms of the front page here of the Sunday Telegraph, "Saddam so badly hurt he needed blood transfusion, Cabinet told." What is your latest news that you're hearing about what did or didn't happen to Saddam on that first night.

WILL FARISH: I think this is a very, very difficult sketchy report. I mean, nobody knows if it actually was him, somebody apparently was carried out. We don't know, we haven't heard anything obviously from Iraqi news, and so we don't know. I wish we had some more clear information.

DAVID FROST: And we hear lots about the backlash against America and the Arab world as a result of all this, and someone wrote about, you know, terrorists being created when they see the buildings going up and so on and indeed the backlash would be against Britain as well, obviously, if there was that backlash. Do you expect that backlash, or do you think that the opposition as per the opinion polls in this country, the opposition is lessening rather than growing?

WILL FARISH: No, I think the opposition is lessening. We certainly have seen in the case of the protest. I think that it's a well known fact that the Muslim countries would just as soon see Saddam out of there, and I think the very fact that as our troops are coming into these small towns the people are coming out and cheering for them. And I think the Iraqi world will see this and I hope it's going to be, you know, a very positive thing.

DAVID FROST: Will, thank you very much for being with us today.

WILL FARISH: Thank you David.

DAVID FROST: Thank you for those words about the friendly fire too.

END OF INTERVIEW


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