Bush, Brown Meet at Camp David President Bush and new British Prime Minister Gordon Brown huddled at the presidential retreat Monday. In a press conference at Camp David, Bush said Brown understood that failure in Iraq "would be a disaster for the security of our own countries."
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Bush, Brown Meet at Camp David

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Bush, Brown Meet at Camp David

Bush, Brown Meet at Camp David

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ALEX CHADWICK, host:

An hour northwest of Washington, at Camp David in Maryland, President Bush is spending time with Britain's new prime minister, Gordon Brown.

Camp David was a favorite meeting place for the president and Mr. Brown's predecessor, Tony Blair. His warm relationship with the American president and support for the Iraq war cost him dearly at home. Today, after the first meeting with Prime Minister Brown, Mr. Bush had this to say.

President GEORGE W. BUSH: There's no doubt in my mind that Gordon Brown understands that failure in Iraq would be a disaster for the security of our own countries, that failure in Iraq would embolden extremist movements throughout the Middle East, that failure in Iraq would basically say to, you know, people sitting on the fence around the region that al-Qaida is powerful enough to drive great countries like Great Britain and America out of Iraq before the mission is done.

CHADWICK: Joining us now from Camp David, NPR White House correspondent David Greene. David, welcome back.

And apart from the issue of Iraq that's at the top of the agenda, Britain is bringing many of its troops home. It's turning over Basra on - and other areas in the south to Iraqi forces. What else was Mr. Brown saying to the president today?

DAVID GREENE: Well, it was interesting listening to them, Alex. That they both talked about shared goals in Iraq, but the countries are in different positions. President Bush talking about that, you know, he ordered a troop surge and that he's waiting for his general to come back in September and talk about what the future U.S. commitment will be.

Gordon Brown, you know, saying he's very, very committed to the war in Iraq, but at the same time saying, you know, our goal right now is to start bringing troops home as soon as we can. Three or four areas of Iraq that Britain was responsible for they've already turned over to Iraqi security forces and Gordon Brown saying they're very eager to turn the fourth area over.

And as we know, a lot of questions about when the Brits leave Basra, what will happen afterwards, whether they'll be an increase in attacks in terrorism. Some of the insurgents trying to send the message that they feel like they've driven the British forces out. So different messages. A shared commitment, they both said, but speaking in very different places.

CHADWICK: You know, Gordon Brown is kind of in a tough spot here. He knows what happened to Tony Blair in the polls because of the war. Did you get any sense of kind of a diffidence on his part today?

GREENE: A little bit, just in terms of demeanor. You know, Tony Blair would praise President Bush quite a bit in a lot of their meetings, shower him with praise, talk about him as a strong leader and being very impressed by his leadership. Gordon Brown did not do that. He said he's standing with President Bush. He said they had very good meetings. But focusing a lot on the relationship, the need for the relationship between the two countries. Not so much as here's a leader who I admire and I'm standing with him.

CHADWICK: Well, the leaders do personify the countries in some way, but there is this: Mr. Bush has only 18 months left in office, so you kind of wonder how important is it for Gordon Brown to have a personal relationship with Mr. Bush at this point.

GREENE: That's true, Alex. And you look at Gordon Brown's schedule. He's also meeting with a lot of senior Democrats in Washington on this trip and he's going to the United Nations to talk about the importance of multilateralism. So sending a strong message that this trip is not just about George W. Bush.

CHADWICK: NPR's David Greene joining us from Camp David. David, thank you.

GREENE: Thank you, Alex.

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