Bush Prepares for First Full Scale Visit to the U.K.

“Tony is a man of strong faith”
( [email protected] ) Nov 18, 2003 09:19 AM EST

LONDON – President Bush expressed his appreciation for the “strong faith” of Prime Minister Tony Blair and the warm relationship shared between their two respective countries, during several interviews performed before his planned trip to Great Britain on Tuesday evening.

There is a “unique relationship between America and Great Britain,” said Bush during an interview with the British Broadcasting Channel, Sunday.

"Tony is a man of strong faith," Bush said during a recorded interview at the White House, Wednesday. Bush, a devoted Christian, was referring to the faith shared by the two leaders.

"You know, the key to my relationship with Tony is he tells the truth and he tells you what he thinks. And when he says he's going to do something, he's going to do it. I trust him, therefore," Bush said.

Blair additionally possessed "a vision beyond the current; in other words, he can see a world that is peaceful," he added.

"I value his advice, and every time I visit with him, whether it be on phone or on video, or in person... he's got some interesting ideas about how to advance a positive agenda," Bush added.

Bush is expected to face extensive protests while in Great Britain, for the U.S. lead war against Iraq earlier this year.

Nevertheless, Bush said he would “look forward to speaking to the people of your great country", and would tell protestors that they were fortunate to be able to express their views.

"Well, freedom is a beautiful thing, I would first say, aren't you lucky to be in a country that encourages people to speak their mind?" he said.

"And I value going to a country where people are free to say anything they want to say. Secondly, I would say that I understand you don't like war, and neither do I," he added.

"But I would hope you understand that I have learned the lessons of September the 11th, 2001, and that terrorists declared war on the United States of America, and war on people that love freedom, and I intend to lead our nation -- along with others, like our close friends in Great Britain -- to win this war on terror; that war is my last choice, not my first choice, but I have obligation as the president to keep our country secure,” said Bush.

Bush and Blair, despite their markedly different political beliefs, have shared a notably close relationship since Bush was inaugurated in 2001. The Prime Minister’s strong backing for the Iraq war also reinforced the friendship. Bush’s visit to the U.K will be the first-ever full-scale state visit by a U.S. president.