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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Tony Blair Holds News Conference

Aired December 14, 2003 - 08:34   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: And now, the reaction, the British prime minister, Tony Blair.
TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We give thanks for that. But let this be more than a cause simply for rejoicing. Let it be a moment to reach out and to reconcile.

To the Sunnis, whose allegiance Saddam falsely claimed, I say there is a place for you, playing a full part in a new and a democratic Iraq.

To those formerly in Saddam's party, there by force and not by conviction, I say we can put the past behind us. Where his rule meant terror and division and brutality, let his capture bring about unity, reconciliation and peace between all the people in Iraq.

Saddam is gone from power. Saddam is gone from power. He won't be coming back. That, the Iraqi people now know.

And in Iraq today, we work hard -- the coalition forces from 30 different nations and Iraqis, who love their country and who work hard with us -- to rebuild Iraq, to nurture its wealth for all its people, to bring prosperity and freedom to those people.

In the time table we have established, power will handed over to Iraqis to run Iraq, now as a sovereign, independent state, based on the principles of justice and democracy and the rule of law.

And let us lay one myth to rest today. We have a common interest, coalition forces and the Iraqi people. Our purpose is a shared purpose; our victory, a shared victory.

The coalition needs an Iraq that is stable and prosperous, for the good of Iraq, the region and the wider world. The Iraqi people, who were reduced to poverty and to penury by Saddam and his sons, they desire no more than to live in peace, to develop their nation's wealth and to put freedom in the place of dictatorship.

We're on the same side.

And who is against us? The tiny minority of Iraqis who wanted Saddam back and must now know that their cause is a futile one; and assorted foreign terrorists who have entered Iraq, whose greatest fear is that a new Iraq spells the end of their vile campaign of terror and propaganda against the Arab and the Western world working in partnership together. The rebirth of Iraq is the death of their attempt to sell the lie that we are fighting Muslims. Muslims were Saddam's victims; Muslims, today in Iraq, the beneficiaries of his demise.

Let's remember all those Iraqis that died under Saddam, the remains of 400,000 human beings already found in mass graves.

So this is a time for celebration, but it's also a time to look forward to unify and to reconcile.

Our thanks go to the coalition forces and the intelligence services who brought about Saddam's capture. Once again they have proved their professionalism, their courage and their commitment.

But let us give thanks, too, to those brave Iraqis who have helped in his capture; who, in the new Iraqi administration, police and defense forces, risk their lives daily for the good of their people. They are the representatives of the new Iraq in action today.

So now is a time of great opportunity. Let us seize it and use it for the good of the people of Iraq and the people in the Middle East and for the people of our world.

Thank you.

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