Bush wants Blair in office until 2009

Iran Materials 26 May 2006 11:19 (UTC +04:00)

(Reuters) - Tony Blair may be unpopular at home, but if President Bush had his way, the British prime minister would stay in office until January 2009.

"My attitude is, I want him to be here so long as I am the president," Bush said with Blair by his side at a White House news conference, reports Trend.

Blair's authority has been on the wane since he said he would not seek a fourth term, while anger over the Iraq war and disillusionment after nine years in office has eroded his popularity with the public. Blair's Labour Party was re-elected in May 2005.

He has been under pressure to stand aside, with many in the Labour Party now expecting him to resign in mid-2007.

When a British reporter suggested it was possibly Blair's last official visit to Washington as prime minister and asked each of the close allies what he would miss about the other, Bush jumped in, saying, "Wait a minute."

"I'll miss those red ties, is what I'll miss," Bush said. "I'll say one thing. He can answer the question, don't count him out, let me tell it to you that way. I know a man of resolve and vision and courage."Blair begged off.

"Probably wise not to say anything more at all."