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Interview With UPI International Editor

Aired March 27, 2003 - 02:47   ET


AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Just heard the British military spokesman talking about the military's plan. In Washington tonight, or at Camp David tonight, at least, the British prime minister, Tony Blair, is in the country for meetings with the president, President Bush. He had dinner with the president and first lady today. They'll have some meetings tomorrow. There's lots of areas on which they agree and some in which they do not.
Roland Flamini is the international editor for UPI, United Press International, and he joins us this morning now from Washington.

Nice to see you. Let's talk about those areas of difference. It really has to do with who will administer post-war Iraq.

ROLAND FLAMINI, INTERNATIONAL EDITOR, UPI: Yes. I think the idea is that both Blair and the Europeans, I think generally, would like to see less of a military presence because they don't think that that will bring confidence to the Iraqis. I mean, the less the Iraqis see of military after a while, the better. There is a phased -- Colin Powell yesterday outlined a phased transition which began with the military in order to keep order, and then moved into some kind of civilian administration.

But I think what Blair would like to do is, he would like to move more quickly into civilian work. Of course, the troops will be there, too, but the civilians will be in the forefront. That seems to be one of the points they're going to discuss, anyway.

BROWN: I'm sorry. Is he trying, in some respects, to bridge this gap that has existed now over the diplomatic debate between the French and the Germans and the Americans? Is he trying to move the Americans closer to the continent's position, if you will?

FLAMINI: Well, Blair, I think now, sees himself as the conciliator. I mean, he was the champion of the U.S. position. He fought very hard for it with great conviction at great political risk, which, incidentally, is now less so because his numbers have certainly improved. And this -- this is the -- this is sort of the ongoing perception of the special relationship that the British have with the United States. That is to say, they can be the bridge between Washington and the European Union, in this particular case.

Of course, the European Union has not -- Europeans have not always felt that they needed such a bridge, but in this particular case, I think, because of his closeness to Bush and because of, you know, the prestige in which he's held here, he can, I think, do a lot to reconcile everybody. The fact of the matter is that, I mean, the institutions do need repairing. And when you look back on the wreckage -- you know, European Union, shambles, United Nations, you know, disaster -- somebody has to put all this together and do it fairly quickly because it's going to be required not only for the Iraqi situation but also for all the other things that they're engaged in which perhaps are of larger importance. AIDS, for example.

BROWN: Mr. Flamini, doesn't that require, among other things, the American administration to give some?

FLAMINI: Oh, sure. I mean, to be sure, it does. One of the things which they will almost certainly discuss -- I'm not there, of course, and won't be there, but -- is the Palestinian situation. The -- I think Blair will want to bring Bush's attention more quickly onto the roadmap for peace, and he'll want to start that, I suspect, rather sooner than the Bush administration wants to tackle it. In other words, Bush, I think, and the American administration would like it all to happen after they've dealt with the Iraqi situation.

BROWN: Right.

FLAMINI: But not Blair. Blair, in fact, is on the record as saying that once the Palestinians have an acceptable prime minister, then they should get the roadmap and work should begin on, you know, reducing the violence and starting some kind of reconciliation effort there.

BROWN: Just a final question, sir. If the war bogs down at all -- and I'm not sure what the British population will consider bogging down -- do you think these numbers we see on Mr. Blair, which have turned around dramatically in the space of a week, will simply turn around again?

FLAMINI: Yes. I think one of the other things which they're likely to discuss are the parameters of what they consider to be acceptable, in terms of casualties. You know, it's really -- you know, the old -- the principle still remains the same. A short war, success for Blair, as well for Bush. Long war, lots of casualties, and Blair is toast.

BROWN: That's pretty direct. Mr. Flamini, it's nice to meet you. Thank you for your time early this morning.

FLAMINI: Thank you.

BROWN: Roland Flamini is the international editor of United Press International, UPI, one of the great wire services in the business.


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