November 1st, 2006 10:28 EST
U.S., Iraqi Forces Reopen Baghdad Checkpoints
Washington -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s order for coalition forces to reopen strategic checkpoints around the Sadr City neighborhood in Baghdad, Iraq, is an example of the government’s commitment to confronting the political and security challenges facing the new Iraq, says White House spokesman Tony Snow.
“We could not be happier that we've got a prime minister who is a man of action and a man who's making decisions. That is absolutely essential for the future of Iraq,” Snow told reporters October 31.
Maliki met earlier with U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and the coalition forces commander, U.S. Army General George Casey, in an effort to reduce the disruptions to area residents caused by the checkpoints, established a week earlier. Iraqi and U.S. troops were conducting an operation to find a missing American soldier, who is believed to have been abducted by Shia militants operating out of Sadr City.
In response to Maliki’s concerns, U.S. and Iraqi officials agreed to remove checkpoints at key thoroughfares.
The decision to lift the checkpoints does not represent a rift between Iraq and the United States, Snow said, but rather that Maliki and U.S. officials mutually understand the importance of winning in Baghdad.
“To deal with checkpoints does not necessarily change the situation in terms of how you deal with Sadr City,” Snow said, “What [Maliki] did not say is, ‘Let's not continue going after terrorist organizations.’”
Snow highlighted Maliki’s recent meetings with leading Sunni and Shia political, religious and tribal leaders in an effort to push forward his agenda of national reconciliation, as well as his continued focus on promoting economic development for all Iraqis. He praised Maliki as “somebody who is willing to make hard decisions, who is willing to lead, who is assertive and also pretty clear-eyed about the challenges that await him.”
“If you're going to be the leader of Iraq and you're going to deal with sectarian issues and you're going to deal with militias, you're going to have to do the sorts of things that Prime Minister Maliki's been doing,” Snow said. “And I think it shows that you've got a politician who's realistic about how to proceed.”
For more information, see Iraq Update.
(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)