U.S. President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Saturday the world must act against Saddam Hussein, arguing that the Iraqi leader has defied the United Nations and reneged on promises to destroy weapons of mass destruction.
"We owe it to future generations to deal with this problem," Bush said as he greeted Blair at Camp David for a hasty brainstorming session on Iraq. "The policy of inaction is not a policy we can responsibly subscribe to," Blair said.
"A lot of people understand that this man has defied every U.N. resolution. Sixteen U.N. resolutions he's ignored," Bush said.
Bush said U.N. weapons inspectors, before they were denied access to Iraq in 1998, concluded that Saddam was "six months away from developing a weapon." He also cited satellite photos released by a U.N. agency Friday that show unexplained construction at Iraq sites that weapons inspectors once visited to search for evidence Saddam was trying to develop nuclear arms.
"I don't know what more evidence we need," Bush said.
After less than four hours of one-on-one talks, as well as larger discussions and dinner Bush walked Blair to his helicopter and the British premier headed off for London, AP reported.
The session was an excellent one that focused on "the importance of rallying the international community" behind dealing with the threat Saddam poses, said Bush spokesman Sean McCormack.
Blair said the United States and Britain want the international community to form a broad coalition against Saddam but said it must achieve results not preserve the status quo. "The U.N. has got to be the way of dealing with this issue, not the way of avoiding dealing with it," the prime minister said.
The two leaders agreed Saddam could not be trusted. "This man is a man who said he was going to get rid of weapons of mass destruction and for 11 long years he has not fulfilled his promise," Bush said. Blair said: "The threat from Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction — chemical, biological, potentially nuclear weapons capability — that threat is real."
"It's an issue not just for America, not just for Britain ... This is an issue for the whole of the international community. We've got to make sure that there is a way of dealing with it," Blair said.
Shortly before Bush and Blair's press conference, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, at the conclusion of a summit with French President Jacques Chirac in Hanover, had warned off the United States from taking unilateral action.
"We are fully in agreement on four points: No unilateral action by the United States; a solution which goes through the United Nations Security Council; the unconditional return of UN arms inspectors to Iraq; and no change in the aims" over Iraq, said Schroeder.
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