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Bush, Blair:U.N. to Play Vital Role in Post-War Iraq - 2003-04-08


President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair say the United Nations will play a "vital" role in Iraq once the fighting there is finished. From Belfast. The two leaders met in Northern Ireland Tuesday, after their coalition forces again tried to kill Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

President Bush says he does not know if the Iraqi leader was killed in the overnight bombing of a Baghdad restaurant. But Mr. Bush says he does know that Saddam Hussein is losing power.

President Bush said,"That grip I used to describe that Saddam had around the throats of the Iraqi people are loosening. I can't tell you if all ten fingers are off the throat, but finger-by-finger it's coming off."

At a joint news conference, the president and prime minister both spoke of a "vital" role for the United Nations in supporting a transitional government that Mr. Blair says will not be dictated by the American and British-led coalition.

Mr. Blair said,"This new Iraq that will emerge is not to be run either by us or, indeed, by the U.N. That is a false choice. It will be run by the Iraqi people."

President Bush intends to appoint a retired U.S. general to run the country until that transitional government is in place.

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