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Bush reiterates justification of Iraq war
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Visiting US President George Bush Sunday reiterated the justification of the Iraq invasion, saying it was "the right thing" to get rid of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

In an exclusive interview with Sky News, Bush said the US invasion was "the right thing to do" despite the deaths of innocent civilians.

"When anybody dies in a war, of course it weighs on my conscience... On the other hand... getting rid of Saddam Hussein was the right thing to do and I'm not going to back off one inch on that," said Bush, who arrived in this British capital Sunday afternoon for a two-day visit.

"The world is better off without him and I'm sorry that innocent civilians died in Iraq but I want you to remember, hundreds of thousands died when Saddam Hussein was leading that country," he said, while giving his maiden broadcast interview to British media alongside the First Lady during his presidency.

"War is brutal, I wish we didn't have war, but I believe we're now on the way to peace," said Bush.

Bush also defended the war on Afghanistan. "It matters for our own security as we learnt on September 11, it also matters from a humanitarian perspective," he said.

When asked whether he worried about his popularity, Bush said sticking to his principles was more important than poll results.

"Popularity is fleeting and I want it to be said about George W. Bush that when he finished his presidency he looked in the mirror and (saw) a man who did not compromise his core principles for the sake of politics or the Gallup poll, or the latest whatever, and you can't lead in this world if you chase something as temporary as a popularity poll," he said.

Shortly after arriving at the Heathrow Airport, Bush and his wife, Laura, flew by helicopter to Windsor Castle for a 45-minute tea meeting with the Queen Elizabeth II.

And later, the couple had an informal dinner with Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his wife, Sarah, at Downing Street.

In a nearby district just as they were dining, about 2,500 British people gathered at London's Parliament Square to protest against Bush's "War on Terror".

Chanting such slogans as "Bush, terrorist" just about 270 meters from the Downing Street, demonstrators blew whistles and beat drums to voice their opposition to the US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some tried to breach a police cordon and 25 people were arrested.

The security was tight during Bush's visit and police said some 1,200 staff had been deployed.

Earlier Sunday, another group of people rallied at the Trafalgar Square to demonstrate against the US prison camp at the Guantanamo Bay, where many US-defined terrorist suspects have been jailed for years without charges. US media also reported that some prisoners there had been abused.

(Xinhua News Agency June 16, 2008)
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