Page last updated at 23:05 GMT, Sunday, 15 June 2008 00:05 UK

Ousting Saddam was right - Bush

George Bush during Sky interview
President Bush is in the UK on his final European tour before he leaves office

George Bush has insisted he did the right thing in ousting Saddam Hussein, saying that peace was now on its way.

Speaking to Sky News in an interview during a visit to the UK, the US president said he was "sorry" innocent civilians had died in Iraq.

But, he said: "On the other hand ... getting rid of Saddam Hussein was the right thing to do and I'm not going to back off one inch on that."

Mr Bush, accompanied by his wife Laura, is on a two-day visit to the UK.

On the former Iraqi leader, he said: "The world is better off without him and I'm sorry that innocent civilians died in Iraq but I want you to remember, hundreds of thousands died when Saddam Hussein was leading that country.

"War is brutal, I wish we didn't have war, but I believe we're now on the way to peace."

Relationship with Brown

Speaking to Sky's Adam Boulton, he also played down reports of a rift with Gordon Brown over troop withdrawals from Iraq.

However, he appeared to indicate that he and Mr Brown had not always communicated as they should have done on the issue.

It's really hard to argue that Osama Bin Laden and his movement are doing well
George Bush

He pointed out that Britain still had more than 4,000 troops in the country - having previously announced plans to cut the numbers to 2,500.

"Look, I am really appreciative of the relationship I have with Gordon Brown and particularly on this issue," he said.

"And the worst thing allies can do is not communicate about our plan and our desires. We all want to take troops out of Iraq and we are.

"He, by the way, left a lot of troops in, more so than they thought they were going to leave in initially.

George and Laura Bush during Sky interview
Mr Bush said al-Qaeda had been "routed" in Iraq

"And so we communicate now and, if there's success, we're going to pull troops out, and I have absolutely no problem how Gordon Brown is managing the Iraqi effort."

On al-Qaeda, Mr Bush said that although Bin Laden was still alive, al-Qaeda was "on the run" - although it remained a threat.

"We've routed them in Iraq. That's not to say that they're not still dangerous or want to come back, but they've been routed. They got driven out of their safe haven in Afghanistan," he said.

"Are they lethal? You bet they're lethal. Should we worry about their plotting and planning in places like America or Great Britain? Absolutely we should.

"But it's really hard to argue that Osama Bin Laden and his movement are doing well."




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