Bush, Blair to Show United Front

Bush, Blair huddling amid renewed fighting, political turmoil

President Bush huddles with Tony Blair today amid continued bloodshed in Iraq -- and fresh uncertainty over plans for self-rule. The British leader has an Oval Office meeting with Bush -- and a joint news conference afterward in the Rose Garden. Yesterday, the president told an audience in Iowa that U-S forces are "performing brilliantly" against a deadly Iraqi insurgency. At the same time, the Pentagon announced plans to bolster those forces by extending the tours of 20-thousand troops. In addition to the military situation in Iraq, Bush and Blair will talk about a UN proposal to give power to a "caretaker" government in June. The renewed fighting has put Blair under heavy pressure to withdraw British forces. But he has staunchly refused. In a newspaper article last weekend, he said doing so would betray the hopes of Iraqis -- but would not "slake the thirst" of those who attack the coalition.