11/04/2003

Blair and Bush broadcast Iraqi freedom message

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has told the people of Iraq that a “new and better future beckons” for their country.

Mr Blair's message was carried via 'Towards Freedom TV', which was broadcast with Arabic subtitles direct to the people of Iraq from an airborne transmitter flying over Baghdad. The programme also carried an address from US President George Bush.

The Prime Minister told the Iraqi people: “Saddam Hussein's regime is collapsing; that the years of brutality, oppression and fear are coming to an end; that a new and better future beckons for the people of Iraq.

“We did not want this war. But in refusing to give up his Weapons of Mass Destruction, Saddam gave us no choice but to act. Now the war has begun, it will be seen through to the end. We will continue to do all we can to avoid civilian casualties. Our enemy is Saddam and his regime; not the Iraqi people. Our forces are friends and liberators of the Iraqi people, not your conquerors. They will not stay a day longer than is necessary.

"We want to give you the chance to rebuild your country; to rebuild your lives; to give your families a chance of a better future. It is in the spirit of friendship and goodwill that we now offer our help."

The Prime Minister pledged: that Iraq would not be run by Britain, or by the US, or by the UN, but would be “run by the people of Iraq” and that the country’s oil wealth belonged to the Iraqi people.

US President George Bush said that American and coalition forces operating inside Baghdad would not leave until what he described as “Saddam's corrupt gang” was gone.

The President reaffirmed that the goals of the coalition were “clear and limited” to ending the brutal regime and that those same forces would help maintain law and order, so that Iraqis could live in security.

Promising food, water and medical aid to those in need, Mr Bush said that the coalition respected the people of Iraq and were taking “unprecedented measures” to spare the lives of innocent Iraqi citizens.

“The nightmare that Saddam Hussein has brought to your nation will soon be over… I assure every citizen of Iraq: your nation will soon be free.

The broadcast was recorded while Mr Bush and Mr Blair attended a two-day summit in Belfast earlier this week.

(SP)

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