Blair to Press Bush for Quick Cease-Fire
NOAH ADAMS. host:
From the studios of NPR West, this is DAY TO DAY. I'm Noah Adams.
ALEX CHADWICK, host:
And I'm Alex Chadwick. Coming up, NPR's Mike Shuster explains the Israeli battle plan from that country's northern border.
ADAMS: But first, at this hour British Prime Minister Tony Blair is at the White House. At a news conference that just started, he and President Bush jointly called for a multinational force to be dispatched quickly to the Middle East to deal with the fighting there. They both also called for a U.N. resolution to provide a framework for that force.
CHADWICK: After meeting with Prime Minister Blair in the Oval Office, President Bush said he's sending Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice back to the region this weekend to resume her diplomacy. The president said that while this is a moment of intense conflict in the Middle East, it's also a time of opportunity for broader change in the region.
ADAMS: Earlier I spoke with NPR's David Green at the White House. He said one issue is when there should be a cease-fire.
DAVID GREEN reporting:
Blair's under enormous amounts of pressure at home to call for an immediate cease-fire. Whether there's a way to come up with a resolution that would bring the U.S. on board that would stop a little short of that, unclear. But the expectation - what most leaders in the world want - is a resolution calling for a cease-fire.
ADAMS: And President Bush is leading that push. He wants more time to elapse while Hezbollah continues to be weakened.
GREEN: He does. And his position throughout this has been that he wants the violence to end as quickly as possible, and that's the key word. He's giving Israel some time, it would appear, to continue trying to neutralize Hezbollah, and his position that there has been a lot of failed diplomacy, the White House calls it, in the past in this region, and that the only way to get a full cease-fire agreement in place that will be workable for the long-term is to ensure that groups like Hezbollah can't pose the kind of threat that they have in recent weeks.
Now Prime Minister Blair seems to want to put more of an emphasis on ending the violence first and making decisions about the future and what the future set-up will be afterwards.
ADAMS: And the clock keeps ticking. How much difference does it make to this strategy that's being put together by President Bush and Tony Blair that Hezbollah is, indeed, proving tougher to get out of southern Lebanon than had been expected by many people?
GREEN: Well, these are two allies who like to work together and portray themselves as pretty close, even though that relationship has been politically problematic for Blair. I think as the days and weeks go on and their differences are exposed more, it could be troublesome for both leaders.
Blair is facing criticism at home that he's a little too cozy with Mr. Bush and agrees with him too often, instead of standing with his European allies. For the president, he's coming under more and more pressure to jump in, engage, and find a way to end the violence soon.
ADAMS: And a brief ending note here. Anything new on Iraq?
GREEN: Well, the big news, of course, President Bush this week called the situation in Baghdad terrible. So he and Prime Minister Blair always talk about and strategize about Iraq. The U.S. is going to be moving in more troops to the capital. They're working on planning for that as we speak, and I'm sure that will come up. There are no two other world leaders whose fates and legacies are tied to Iraq as much as the president and prime minister.
ADAMS: From the White House, NPR's David Green. Thank you, David.
GREEN: My pleasure, Noah.
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