Friday, August 04, 2006

Tony Blair confronts the critics back home

Blair Press conference
Tony Blair confronts the critics back home
by: Kebz on: 4th Aug, 06

Blair on ...
Labour dissent
The idea George Bush and I are at odds over this is complete rubbish. We have been at one particularly shoulder to shoulder. It's not surprising there are people who profoundly disagree with the policy ... this is a very, very difficult situation and when you see terrible scenes of bloodshed and the death of innocent Israeli civilians it is a terrible thing ... my job is to try to bring it to an end by insisting on avoiding a ceasefire until all the world’s problems are sorted out. Let us not pretend it is easy standing here in front of the press exuding fake sincerity, just having signed orders to speed up arms shipments to needy Israel.
Israeli actions
The reason why this problem has arisen is that, in defiance of previous UN resolutions, Hizbullah have continued to operate with their militias outside the control of the government of Israel down in the south of Lebanon. No one is giving anyone a green light [to continue military action]. That is just not correct. It is more like amber and whilst it may be illegal to go through amber, in practice you have to make a very difficult judgement as to whether stopping may be more dangerous than carrying on. The sale of green lights is a tricky business but if we didn’t sell them, somebody else would step in… hurting our industry and jobs.
Diplomatic strategy
The UK and France, with the US and others, are in intense negotiations - I hope it may be possible, even within 24 or 48 hours, for people to see the [UN] resolution we are working on. At the moment we have agreed on a title, but that shouldn’t prevent us from progressing to the first line and with hard work and dedication we may be at the second line by early next month. Then, provided the three of us are in the same place supporting Israel, it should be days to get ... [agreement].
Iran and Syria
Nobody is contemplating military action at this time [we planned that months ago]. If they want an opportunity to come into the international community and participate fully they can do so - but it's got to be on basis that they're not exporting terrorism around the region or in the case of Iran trying to acquire a nuclear weapon in breach of international law. I have personally seen signed export licences for terrorism originating from Tehran. I find it quite shocking that the president of Iran says the solution is to eliminate Israel, drive it into the sea and have Margaret [Beckett] and Condi [Rice] in his personal harem. How helpful is that at this moment in time, when the rockets that have been fired into Israel are very similar, if not identical, to those used against British forces in Basra? I mean the grey metal and the fins are a giveaway.
Leaving John Prescott in charge
In relation to whatever I'll be doing in the next few days, the most important thing is to realise that, wherever I am, I have got full communications with George ... The truth is that several of the leaders I am speaking to are actually on holiday as well. We are staying in the same cottage and Ehud will be setting up the barbecue whilst George and I set up the tent together.


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