October 28th, 2006 11:22 EST
Bush, Maliki Reaffirm Commitment to Democratic Iraq
Washington -- President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki have issued a joint statement reaffirming their commitment to “the security and prosperity of a democratic Iraq and the global fight against terrorism which affects all our citizens.”
In their statement, released October 28 by the White House, the two leaders said they had held consultations earlier in the day by means of secure video, in which they discussed issues including “the development of Iraqi security forces, efforts to promote reconciliation among all Iraqis, and the International Compact for Iraq and the economic reforms associated with it.”
Bush and Maliki cited three common goals: “accelerating the pace of training the Iraqi Security Force, Iraqi assumption of command and control over Iraqi forces, and transferring responsibility for security to the government of Iraq.”
They reported having formed a high-level working group that includes the Iraqi national security advisor, minister of defense and minister of interior, along with U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad and U.S. General George Casey, commander of Multi-National Forces – Iraq. The group will make recommendations on how these goals could best be achieved, says the joint statement.
In an October 24 joint news briefing from Baghdad, Ambassador Khalilzad and General Casey said that, if Iraqi leaders were to meet their agreed-upon security and political goals over the next 12 to 18 months, then Iraqi forces should be capable of securing the country with reduced U.S. military assistance. (See related article.)
The State Department's senior Iraq coordinator, David Satterfield, said at an October 26 press briefing in Washington: "The whole concept of goals, objectives, benchmarks, achievements to be made as a useful shaping tool is very much an Iraqi product. … It is something that is reached mainly in internal consultation amongst Iraqis.” (See related article.)
President Bush and Prime Minister Maliki said in their statement that the new working group “will supplement existing mechanisms to better define our security partnership and enhance our coordination.”
Bush and Maliki declared themselves to be committed to the ongoing partnership between their countries and pledged to “work in every way possible for a stable, democratic Iraq and for victory in the war on terror.”
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)