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Blair Says He's Proud of Iraq War Outcome

'I don't apologize,' the British premier adds in the face of his plunging popularity.

September 29, 2003|From Times Wire Services

LONDON — British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Sunday that he takes pride in the war that toppled Saddam Hussein and has no doubt that the Iraqi leader had been "a serious threat to his region and to the wider world."

Despite Blair's plummeting popularity because of the war, he said: "I don't apologize for Iraq. I am proud of what we have done."

Blair and President Bush have faced mounting criticism over the Iraq occupation and the failure to find the banned weapons that they cited to justify war.

But the prime minister said Sunday that he remains confident that prewar intelligence about Iraq's suspected weapons will be proved right.

"We know perfectly well he had these weapons, he had these programs," Blair told the BBC.

"I believe as powerfully as I did at the time that making sure that that man is no longer in charge of Iraq is a good thing for his country, the region and the world," the prime minister said, speaking in Bournemouth, on England's south coast.

"The question for our opponents ... is, are you really saying that Iraq, the region, the world would be a better and safer place if Saddam was still in power?" he said.

Blair made the comments ahead of the Labor Party's annual conference, where he is likely to face angry questions about Iraq.

A poll released Sunday found that 64% of Britons questioned said they did not trust Blair and 48% think he should resign.

The survey, by polling firm ICM for the News of the World newspaper, questioned 1,002 people between Wednesday and Friday. The survey had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

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