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Iraqi President Thanks 'Heroes Who Came to Liberate Us'

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 9, 2005 – Iraq's president today thanked "all the brave American Army" for its sacrifices and losses in liberating Iraq and said his country mourns the loss of American lives in exchange for Iraq's freedom.

"We owe to those American heroes who came to liberate us from the worst kind of dictatorship," Jalal Talabani said at the Pentagon after meeting with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad and other officials.

"Thanks to your brave Army, now Iraqi people (are free)," he said, adding that for the first time Iraqis have freedom of expression, political parties, media -- "of everything."

He said "the glorious American people" have paid the price for others' freedom throughout history. "You in the United States have paid hundreds of thousands of your sons and your boys in fighting against fascism and in liberating Asian people," Talabani said. "Thanks to you, you liberated Afghanistan from the worst kind of reactionary regime; you liberated Iraq from the worst kind of dictatorship."

Talabani described progress in Iraq's economy and reconstruction, but said that unfortunately the media prefers to cover negative events instead.

"The situation in Iraq is not only black or negative," he said. "I am sorry to say that media was reluctant to reflect the real picture of Iraq."

Rumsfeld said he was pleased with Iraq's progress in drafting a new constitution. "That is difficult work," he said. "It has been watched with great interest, and I want to congratulate you on that progress and on the fact that it protects the rights and the opportunities of all people in Iraq."

Both men expressed optimism in progress being made by the Iraqi security forces.

"The skill of the Iraqi security forces is improving every week," Rumsfeld said.

Talabani said he believes Iraqi security forces will largely be able to provide for the country's security within two years. He surmised that in two years his country will need only small numbers of American troops "to prevent others from interfering in our internal affairs."

Both also vowed to fight terrorism in Iraq and elsewhere.

"The president of the United States and the government of the United States are absolutely determined to see this through to victory and success and to see the Iraqi people off on a path towards a democratic future and a successful future," Rumsfeld said.

Talabani said Iraq is determined to be America's partner in the "fight against tyranny (and) terrorism."

"We are supporting you in your policy in the Middle East; we are proud to be your friends," the president said. "We are proud to be your partners in fighting against terrorism, and we are grateful to you."

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Biographies:
Donald H. Rumsfeld


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