British Premier Tony Blair meets U.S. President George W. Bush Friday. While the two are expected to show unity on plans for Iraq's future, they'll also likely talk about Blair's suggestion for more UN involvement.
Will the smiles continue?
Speaking with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in New York on Tuesday amid escalating violence against coalition troops and civilians in Iraq, Blair said the UN should play a key role in what's to come. As a result of the current situation, a new UN Security Council resolution on Iraq's political transition would be required in the near future, Blair said.
Blair and Annan at an earlier meeting.
"It's in everybody's interest to see Iraq become a stable and democratic state," he said. "Our determination to get there remains undimmed. We have to stand firm."
While saying that the last year had not been easy for his organization, Annan added that divisions in the international community were beginning to heal. He added that he hoped member states would cooperate on a new resolution.
According to news reports prior to Friday's meeting, Bush and Blair are expected to justify their countries' continuing presence in Iraq by making their case for the progress that's been achieved so far on the road to rebuilding the country.
Both leaders have been under pressure as inspectors have yet failed to turn up any weapons of mass destruction supposedly hidden by former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein -- the reason for the war in the first place.
Lakhdar Brahimi is a man Blair and Bush are eager to hear from: The UN special envoy has been in Iraq to talk about the proposed June 30 handover of power to Iraqis from U.S.-led coalition forces prior to elections in January and is expected to come back with suggestions by the end of the month.
Revealing parts of his proposal for Iraq's future government earlier this week, Brahimi said it should be headed by a UN-appointed prime minister, a president and two vice-presidents. U.S. officials have said they could live with what they'd seen of Brahimi's plan so far.
"I don't see anything at this point in what he's proposing that would be of concern to us," U.S National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said according to The New York Times.
Blair supports Middle East policy shift
The two men are also expected to talk about Bush's recent policy shift regarding the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon earlier this week, Bush had voiced his support for Sharon's proposal to withdraw from the Gaza strip but keep several Jewish settlements in the West Bank in return.
Blair said on Thursday that he didn't feel rebuffed by Bush's reversal, adding that he saw it as a positive move after the so-called road map to peace for the region has been stalled.
"I think it's important that we ensure that the initiative that has been taken the past couple of days leads to a real sense of movement and change there in the Middle East," Blair said.