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Monday, March 27, 2006

What Bush and Blair Told the Press After Key 2003 Meeting on Iraq

By Greg Mitchell
Published: March 27, 2006 10:55 AM ET

NEW YORK A front-page New York Times article this morning about a meeting between President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Jan 31, 2003, is receiving substantial international attention. It gets even more interesting when contrasted with what the two men told the press when they emerged from the closed-door session.
The Times article reviews for the first time the full text of a confidential memo of a two-hour meeting between President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair on Jan. 31, 2003. The memo makes clear that the White House was bent on attacking Iraq two months later no matter what, "even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons," writes Don Van Natta, Jr.
The memo, written by Blair's top foreign policy adviser David Manning, declares that the two leaders believed that "diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning." Among other things, the two leaders predicted a quick war and "manageable" aftermath. Bush predicted that it was "unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups," and Blair agreed


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