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Wednesday, 4 September, 2002, 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK
Blair to meet Bush for Iraq talks
Tony Blair on Tuesday
Tony Blair will be at Camp David on Saturday
Downing Street has confirmed that UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is set to fly to America for talks with US President George Bush.

Mr Blair meets President Bush at his official Camp David retreat on Saturday when tackling the alleged threat posed by Iraq is certain to top the agenda.


I look forward to talking with Tony Blair about our mutual concern to make the world safer

George Bush
US President

Describing Iraq's Saddam Hussein as a serious threat, President Bush said: "I look forward to talking with Tony Blair about our mutual concern to make the world safer."

Mr Bush said on Wednesday that he would consult Congress before launching any military action against Iraq.

Mr Blair has promised to produce a dossier of evidence against Iraq "in the next few weeks".

Dossier details

Visiting his Swedish counterpart in Stockholm, Mr Blair said the dossier would show why the United Nations was right to impose a weapons inspections regime on Iraq in the first place.

"That is material to do with chemical, biological, nuclear weapons of mass destruction and also on the nature of the regime," said Mr Blair.

The precise form of the dossier had yet to be decided, he said.

George Bush
George Bush will be talking to various world leaders
"It will be designed to show people why it is that adherence to those United Nations resolutions matters."

Plans for the two leaders to meet were expected but their talks are to be held even sooner than expected.

Mr Blair's words at a special news conference on Tuesday and President Bush's message after facing questions from US congressional leaders on Wednesday have fuelled speculation about the prospect of military action.

Questions remain

Downing Street stressed the meeting between President Bush and Mr Blair was not a council of war.

The two men, who last spoke on the telephone on Tuesday night, had agreed for some time that they should meet.

The prime minister's official spokesman said: "This will be an opportunity to go over the issues flowing from Saddam's continuing violation of UN resolutions."

President Bush is expected to meet Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretian on Monday in Detroit.

Number 10 says the president's talks with world leaders prove he is trying to engage with the world community.

Mr Blair has stressed no decisions on military action have been taken, but says the Iraqi problem must be confronted.

But on Tuesday he gave his broadest hint yet that he would support the US in forcing a "regime change" in Baghdad.

There are still many questions to be raised, says Mr Blair, including what regime might follow Saddam Hussein.

Bush's warning

He is also likely to raise the question of a new UN resolution at Camp David, although he has argued the UN must not be used as a way of avoiding dealing with Iraq.

The US president is to go to the UN next week, where he said he would "state clearly what I think".

"I will first remind the United Nations that for 11 long years Saddam Hussein has sidestepped, crawfished, wheedled out of any agreement he made not to develop weapons of mass destruction," he said.

"And so I'm going to call upon the world to recognize that he is stiffing the world."

'Persuasion needed'

Mr Blair has been warned his dossier of evidence against Iraq will have to be very convincing to stand any chance of limiting the unease about the prospect of military action.

Labour MP Bruce George, chairman of the Commons defence committee, said he hoped the promised dossier would be published in time for Labour's annual conference, in order to head off any potential unrest.

The TUC leadership is expected, at a meeting on Thursday, to welcome publication of the dossier - but will insist there must be no unilateral attack on Iraq and that the United Nations must be consulted.

Despite Mr Blair's promise of a dossier, some Labour backbenchers say they suspect there is no new hard evidence against Iraq.

The Conservatives have welcomed the dossier promise but the Liberal Democrats say Mr Blair may find it difficult to convince a sceptical public.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Andrew Marr
"Camp David is pitched on the road to a war"
President George W Bush
"I look forward to talking with Tony Blair about our mutual concern to make the world safer"

Main stories

Background

Analysis

IN PICTURES

TALKING POINT

FORUM

THE IRAQ DOSSIER
See also:

03 Sep 02 | Politics
03 Sep 02 | Politics
03 Sep 02 | Politics
03 Sep 02 | Politics
04 Sep 02 | Middle East
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