Blair courts Aznar over Iraq rebuilding schedule

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Indy Politics

Tony Blair held two hours of talks with Jose Maria Aznar, the Spanish Prime Minister, yesterday as he continued his efforts to build international backing for rebuilding Iraq.

The talks with Mr Aznar, an ally in the Iraq war, focused on financing Iraq's reconstruction and were described as "positive and very constructive".

The discussion follow an embarrassing setback for the Prime Minister this weekend after discussions with French President Jacques Chirac and the German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. The French president demanded power be handed back to the Iraqis in a "few months", a far faster timetable than envisaged by Mr Blair and President Bush.

Downing Street said yesterday that Mr Blair and the Spanish premier had enjoyed a working lunch and the talks in Berlin with President Chirac and Gerhard Schröder were discussed. A conference is to be held in Madrid in October, which will focus on helping to finance Iraq's reconstruction.

Today, Jack Straw will fly to New York for a United Nations General Assembly meeting which will be dominated by arguments over post-war Iraq.

The UK and US want a new Security Council resolution to get more nations to share the financial and military burden of stabilising and rebuilding Iraq.

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