The Middle East was top of the agenda when British Prime Minister Tony Blair and American President George W Bush spoke earlier. Blair is the first world leader to visit since Bush was re-elected last week. Bush expressed his desire to see long-lasting peace in the Middle East and emphasised the necessity of a two-state solution: “Prime Minister Blair and I share a vision of a free, peaceful, democratic broader Middle East. That vision must include a just and peaceful resolution to the Arab Israeli conflict based on two democratic states, Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security.
“Our sympathies are with the Palestinian people as they begin a period of mourning,” he added. Bush said lasting peace was possible within the next four years but refused to make it a commitment of his second term Both leaders have made much of their so-called special relationship, despite the difficulties it has caused for Blair at home. He said they’ll continue to work together: “That viable state has to be a democratic state. The second thing is how do we get there, how do we enable the Palestinian people to get there? We will do whatever it takes to help build support for that concept.” Bush was keen to emphasise the importance of a good working relationship between the US and Europe: “In my second term I will work to deepen our transatlantic ties, with the nations of Europe. I intend to visit Europe as soon as possible after my inauguration. My government will continue to work through the NATO alliance and with the European Union.” The two men are also expected to discuss Iraq, in particular the on-going US-led assault on Falluja, the future of the four British terrorist suspects being held in Guantanamo Bay and climate change.