Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Blair to Urge Bush for Bigger UN Role; WAR ON IRAQ: PM Hopes to Rebuild Bridges between America and Europe: AS THE PRIME MINISTER FLIES TO CAMP DAVID, WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE FIGHTING MOVES TO TOP OF AGENDA FOR SUMMIT

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Blair to Urge Bush for Bigger UN Role; WAR ON IRAQ: PM Hopes to Rebuild Bridges between America and Europe: AS THE PRIME MINISTER FLIES TO CAMP DAVID, WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE FIGHTING MOVES TO TOP OF AGENDA FOR SUMMIT

Article excerpt

Byline: PATRICK HENNESSY

TONY Blair will today urge President George Bush to give the United Nations a key say in running post-war Iraq, during a summit in the US.

The Prime Minister was flying to Washington for crucial face-to-face talks expected to be dominated by determining what to do once Saddam Hussein's regime is toppled.

The Americans are understood to be uneasy about allowing the UN to set up an interim administration - a legacy of the bruising failure to obtain a second resolution from nations on the 15-member Security Council.

However, Mr Blair is confident he can persuade President Bush that the international community must be once again brought onside, despite continuing resistance by France.

The Prime Minister claims a key factor after the war is to rebuild bridges between the US and Europe, which have been shattered by the diplomatic rifts before hostilities broke out.

The timing of Mr Blair's visit to the presidential retreat of Camp David has led to speculation that the two men will discuss changes in military strategy - possibly including supplying more troops.

But the Prime Minister has insisted that, so far at least, reinforcements are not needed.

The meeting, the first face-to-face talks between the pair since the Azores summit days before the war started, will also bolster Mr Bush by allowing him to be seen to be welcoming his key ally.

Mr Blair has made it clear that he wants to press the Bush administration to transfer power quickly from a US military governor to a UNapproved civil administration once conflict ceases.

One British official admitted: "There is a ferocious debate going on inside the US administration about this. Things might not be moving in the direction that we would want.

The Prime Minister must get Bush to buy into this idea of a UN role and fight for it."

As if to underline his insistence on a UN role, Mr Blair will also hold key talks with the organisation's secretary general, Kofi Annan, in New York before returning to Britain on Friday.

Mr Blair and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw will meet the main members of Mr Bush's war council, including secretary of state Colin Powell, defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld and security adviser Condoleezza Rice. …

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