Bush, Blair conclude meetings at Camp David
CAMP DAVID, Maryland (CNN) -- President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair spent a second day at the U.S. presidential retreat outside Washington on Saturday after "productive" talks focusing on missile defense, Iraq and NATO.
Friday's meeting was Bush's first with a European leader since taking office in January. The two had no public appearances set Saturday.
Blair and his wife, Cherie, went home to London Saturday, while Bush and his wife, Laura, are scheduled to remain at Camp David until Sunday.
Both men said Friday they would consider changes in sanctions against Iraq but insisted that the 10-year-old restrictions remain tough.
"We're all conscious of the fact that our quarrel is not with the Iraqi people, who in many ways suffer under the yoke of Saddam Hussein," Blair said. "And therefore, it's important that we make sure that the sanctions hit him, Saddam, as effectively as they possibly can."
Bush said the two leaders spent an hour talking about existing U.N. sanctions against Iraq, which the president has compared to Swiss cheese.
"I think the prime minister and I both recognize that it is going to be important for us to build a consensus in the region to make the sanctions more effective," Bush said.
Though Blair called the talks "productive," he said that no significant progress had been made on British reservations about the U.S.-proposed missile defense shield.
"We don't have a specific proposal on the table yet," Blair said. "But I understand and share the American concerns, as I've said many times before."
Britain and other European nations have not been quick to embrace the shield -- which is still in development -- because of fears that it might spark a new arms race with Russia. Moscow says the shield would violate the current U.S.-Russian weapons treaty.
Blair said he has been "really enthusiastic" about the talks so far.
"They've been absolutely excellent and very productive as I hoped and expected ... we discussed a whole range of issues," Blair said. "I think we've been through all the issues that you would expect, plus some more. And I've found it a very, very useful meeting, indeed."
The two leaders said they spent much time discussing the idea of forming a defense force for Europe, specifically whether such a force would undermine the North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance.
Bush said Blair had assured him "that the European defense would in no way undermine NATO. He also assured me that there would be a joint command, that the planning would take place within NATO, and that should all NATO not wish to go on a mission, that would then serve as a catalyst for the defense forces moving on their own."
Blair was asked if there were possible circumstances that would require Bush to enter the Northern Ireland peace process with Britain, taking up the mantle left by former President Bill Clinton.
"I can't exactly foresee the circumstances in which, you know, the American president can come in and be of help," Blair said. "But I was very grateful for the offer of that. And I think people in Northern Ireland will be as well."
Bush and Blair are political contrasts: Bush is a conservative Republican while Blair, head of Britain's Labour Party, patterned himself after Bush's predecessor, Clinton.
When asked what they had in common, Bush could only mention personal issues such as mutual interest in sports and fatherhood.
"I think probably the place where we're going to find a lot of common ground is we're both dads," Bush said, "and proudly so, and recognize that as our most important responsibility is to be loving dads."
CNN White House Correspondents Kelly Wallace and John King contributed to this report.
Blair: Saddam most dangerous leader
The White House
|Back to the top|