Bush, Brown Meet in LondonBy Paula Wolfson
16 June 2008
U.S. President George Bush has won British support for his twin appeals for more troops for Afghanistan and more pressure on Iran. From London, VOA's Paula Wolfson reports he got some welcome news from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
The president's farewell trip to Europe ended on a positive note for the White House.
Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown (l) poses with U.S. President Bush, on the doorstep of his official residence at 10 Downing Street in central London, 14 Jun 2008At a joint news conference following talks in London, Prime Minister Brown said his government is freezing the British assets of Iran's largest bank. And he warned Tehran it faces ever increasing sanctions if it refuses to suspend nuclear enrichment.
"If Iran continues to ignore united resolutions - to ignore our offers of partnership - we have no choice but to intensify sanctions," he said. "And so today, Britain will urge Europe, and Europe will agree, to take further sanctions against Iran."
The prime minister also announced plans to send more British troops to Afghanistan. A reporter then asked him if the United Kingdom might draw down its military contingent in the Basra area of southern Iraq, to balance out the increased Afghan deployment.
"You can not trade numbers between the two countries," said Prime Minister Brown. "There is a job to do in Iraq and I have described it. And there is a job to do in Afghanistan and we will continue to do it."
President Bush welcomed the news, and said Gordon Brown is living up to his commitments, despite pressure from the British public to pull out of Iraq.
"He has left more troops in Iraq than originally anticipated," said President Bush. "And like me, we will be making our decisions based on the conditions on the ground, the recommendation of our commanders, without an artificial timetable set by politics."
There was also a joint denunciation from the two leaders of the government of Zimbabwe. Both expressed concern about the outlook for the upcoming runoff presidential election.
Gordon Brown said Robert Mugabe must not be allowed to steal another term in office.
"And that is why we call for Zimbabwe to accept a United Nation's human rights envoy to visit Zimbabwe now and to accept the international monitors from all parts of the world who are available to ensure that is a free and fair election," he said.
The Bush-Brown talks also covered Burma, world oil prices, trade, and the war on terrorism.
During the session with reporters, Mr. Bush was asked about Afghan President Hamid Karzai's threat to send troops into bordering Pakistan to target terrorists.
President Bush urged both sides to keep calm, and offered to do all he can to help reduce tensions.
"It is in no one's interest the extremists have a safe haven from which to operate," he said. "Obviously, it is a testy situation there."
From London, President Bush and Prime Minister Brown traveled to Belfast to show their support for the Northern Ireland peace process.
"I am impressed by the progress that is being made toward peace and reconciliation," said President Bush. "As a matter of fact, the world is impressed by the progress being made toward peace and reconciliation. And that obviously takes a commitment by leadership."
It was the last stop on a farewell tour of Europe that has already taken the president to Slovenia, Germany, Italy and France.