Iraqi President Calls Tony Blair a Hero of Liberation

Blair gets accolades…

“We regret the departure of one of the great leaders of the British people and a great friend of the Iraqi people who we consider to be one of the heroes of the liberation of Iraq.”

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani
May 11, 2007

Iraqi President Talabani called Prime Minister Blair a “Hero of Iraq’s Freedom” today.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair (L) meets with Iraq’s President Jalal Talabani in London. (AFP)

The President of Iraq also urged American democratic politicians to reconsider withdrawing forces from Iraq.
The BBC reported:

US and British troops will need to stay another one or two years in Iraq, the Iraqi president has said.
Jalal Talabani was addressing students during a visit to Cambridge University.

Asked when the UK and US should leave, he said: “I think in one or two years we will be able to recruit our own army forces and say goodbye to our friends.”

He added that he considered Prime Minister Tony Blair to be a “hero” and said he hoped Gordon Brown would continue his work.

After a meeting with Mr Blair at 10 Downing Street, Mr Talabani said Mr Blair was a “dear friend” and a “great leader”.

The Iraqi president expressed his sympathy towards the families of British forces killed in his country, who he said had died for a just cause.

He said: “I am very, very sorry for the lives lost in Iraq.”

“I think it was a very noble job that your army and your people did in Iraq.”

Mr Talabani urged American politicians to reconsider plans to begin withdrawing their forces from his country.

On Thursday, the US House of Representatives passed a draft bill that would provide funding for troops in Iraq only until July.

Mr Talabani told reporters: “We are concerned.

“We hope that Congress will review this decision and help the American army to stay until the Iraqi army will be able to replace them and to protect the security of Iraq.”

The Kyodo Times has more on Talabani’s speech:

“I would like to tell everyone that we in Iraq look to you as one of the heroes of the liberation of 27 million Iraqis from the worst kind of dictatorship,” Talabani told the assembled media.

“This is a big historical achievement. Of course it has its costs, but I am sure that history will show the realities of the importance of liberating Iraq,” he said.

Tony Blair announced yesterday that he was stepping down as Prime Minister in late June.

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