Blair: Removing Saddam Will Be 'Tough and Difficult'

Removing Saddam Hussein from power will be "tough and difficult," Prime Minister Tony Blair said in an interview broadcast Friday.

Speaking after wartime talks with President Bush, Blair said it would take time to "prise the grip of Saddam off the country when it's been there for over 20 years.

"When you've had a whole series of security services repressing the local people, it was never going to be a situation these people were simply going to give up power and go away," Blair told British Broadcasting Corp. radio.

Blair flew back to London early Friday after two days of talks with Bush and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan about the war and postwar plans for Iraq.

The BBC said that in part of the interview to be broadcast later Friday, Blair predicted a U.N. Security Council resolution mobilizing humanitarian relief for Iraq would be passed within 24 hours.

Britain sees U.N. involvement in rebuilding Iraq as a crucial step in rehabilitating the world body, torn apart by disagreements over war with Iraq.

Britain is keener than the United States on seeing the U.N. play a big role in administering postwar Iraq. On Thursday, Blair said he and Bush had agreed to seek new U.N. resolutions on humanitarian relief, postwar plans and a promise to keep Iraq's territorial boundaries intact.

"We're not saying that the future of Iraq should be governed by the Americans and the British, we're saying the future of Iraq should be governed by the Iraqi people," Blair told the BBC.

"Now what we need to do is to try and make sure that we have as representative a system of government as possible and that's something we need to work out with the U.N.

"That is why we agreed -- myself and President Bush, (Spanish) Prime Minister (Jose Maria) Aznar at the summit that we had in the Azores -- that not just the humanitarian element but also the civil administration in Iraq should be governed by U.N. resolution."

At a press conference after Thursday's meeting, Bush said the trans-Atlantic coalition would keep fighting "however long it takes to win."

Blair echoed that view.

"I've always known that it was likely to have tough and difficult moments, and I do point out again we're a week into this and an awful lot has been achieved," he told the BBC.