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U.S., British Leaders to Discuss Iraq War, Reconstruction

Earlier Wednesday, Bush addressed U.S. troops and their families at MacDill Air Force Base, near Tampa, Fla. The president reviewed the successes of the coalition campaign in Iraq, but made it clear that a long road lay ahead.

“Our military is making good progress in Iraq, yet this war is far from over,” Mr. Bush said.

The president also outlined what he called a growing coalition of allies aiding in the war effort, cataloging the contributions of U.S. allies amid cheers and applause.

“Czech, Slovak, Polish and Romanian forces, soon to be joined by Ukrainian and Bulgarian forces are forward deployed in the region, prepared to respond in the event of any attack of weapons of mass destruction anywhere in the region,” President Bush said.

The two leaders also planned to discuss the role of the United Nations in a post-war Iraq during their meeting at Camp David. France, Russia and other U.N. Security Council members have said they would block any plan under which the U.S. and U.K. would run an Iraqi rebuilding program.

But Blair told the House of Commons Wednesday that both nations recognized the key role of the international body.

“I do not believe there will be the need to persuade the president of the involvement of the United Nations,” Blair said.

Prior to his departure for Washington, Blair told reporters it was too early to debate about governing in a post-Saddam Iraq.

“The point is that we are in there in a military situation. This is why this argument about the U.N. is premature,” said Blair.

Following his visit to Camp David, the British Prime Minister planned to travel to New York to meet with U.N. Secretary-General, Kofi Annan.

President Bush and Prime Minister Blair have scheduled a news conference Thursday.

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