Press Conference with Prime Minister Tony Blair
Sea Island, June 8, 2004, 16h50
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: [in progress] is on the passing of the United Nations Resolution in respect to Iraq. This is an important milestone for the new Iraq. We all now want to put the divisions of the past behind us and unite behind the vision of a modern, democratic and stable Iraq that can be a force for good not just for the Iraqi people themselves, but for the whole of the region, and therefore, the wider world.
The world community has spoken with one voice and has given its support to the new Iraqi government led by Prime Minister Allawi. And it has also expressed its clear support for the timetable to democracy and the holding of elections next year. In addition, it has supported the policy of Iraqi-ization of security in Iraq and the role of the multinational force in bringing that about. So the people of Iraq now know that the world community is united in helping them take charge of their future.
And to those who would try to stop this process, who would try to continue the terrorism and the killing, they should also know that it's not just the new Iraqi government they face, or the multinational force, or the United States, or the United Kingdom, but a united world.
I have no doubt there will be difficult and dangerous days ahead. These people will continue with their terrorism and their obstruction. But there should be no doubt about what it is we want to see happening in Iraq, or indeed, the collective determination of a united world to bring it about.
Now, I think it's down here I look for the questions?
Q Could I just ask you about security? Okay. I'll keep talking and if you Ð
Excellent. I was going to ask you Ð I still am going to ask you about security. Under the UN Resolution, do the Iraqis have a veto in all but name on security operations? And, just secondly, how quickly now can we see Ð will we see troops from other major nations joining the multinational force so it actually does become a truly multinational force?
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: Well, it already is a true multinational force. There are forces from some 30 countries at the moment. But in respect to the first point, I think as the Prime Minister of Iraq himself said a few days ago, it's not actually helpful to talk about vetoes, but there is no doubt at all that sovereignty, full and indivisible sovereignty, transfers to the government of Iraq. And the multinational force from now on is there in support of the Iraqi government. But as the Prime Minister of Iraq also said a few days ago, it's going to be necessary to keep that multinational force there so that as the new Iraqi security forces build up their capability and their strength, they can increasingly take over from the multinational force.
Now, another question?
Q You all seem relieved to get this resolution, but what are your priorities then in your talks with President Bush tomorrow? I mean, are you confident, for example, you can do anything at all here to advance the Middle East process? I mean, there's a lot of anger in the Arab world and Saudi Arabia and Egypt not represented here, and surely they are absolutely crucial players.
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: Well, it is crucial that we make progress in the Middle East, and I have no doubt will form part of the discussions tomorrow. But I think what is important also is to recognize that if Iraq can achieve the democracy that plainly its people want to see, that would be an enormous force for stability in the whole of the region Ð I mean, not just in Iraq itself. So, of course, as I always say to you, the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is extremely important. We have to make progress on that. And I hope we will be able to make some progress on it. But, you know, let us at least be thankful today that we have a unified world speaking with one voice on the subject if Iraq.
Right, I've got time for one final question.
Q What do you think this will do to the psyche both of ordinary Iraqis who want to get on and live a peaceful life and also the psyche of the terrorists and the madmen, the people who are causing suicide bombings and death and destruction? What difference will it make?
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: I think that's a good question. I think for the Iraqis themselves, this means that they now realize they have a unified world community on their side, helping them towards the stability and the democracy and the prosperity they want to see for themselves. And I think for the terrorists and the fanatics, the former regime elements that are trying to stop this process of democracy Ð I think they now know that it isn't just the United States and the U.K., or indeed the multinational force, it's the whole of the United Nations and the world community. And what we're really saying is whatever the divisions of the past, whatever the differences of the past, let us unite now in a different vision for a modern Iraq capable of being that force for good for Iraqis and also for the wider region and the world.
If you'll forgive me, I am going to have to go now, but many thanks.
Source: Official G8 Sea Island site