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Bush: Coalition in Iraq Will ‘Succeed Unless We Quit’

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 17, 2006 – President Bush acknowledged today the difficulty of the mission in Iraq but insisted, “We’ll succeed unless we quit.”

“The (Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-) Maliki government is going to make it unless the coalition leaves before they have a chance to make it,” Bush said during a news conference today in Vietnam, where he shared the podium with Australian Prime Minister John Howard. “And that's why I assured the prime minister we'll get the job done.”

People tend to want instant success in the world, but the task in Iraq and elsewhere in the world countering radical extremism “is going to take awhile,” the president, in Vietnam for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, told reporters.

Bush called the war in Iraq just one part of the struggle between radicals and extremists and people who want to live in peace. “And it's just going to take a long period of time … for the … ideology of freedom to overcome an ideology of hate,” he said. “Yet, the world that we live in today is one where (people) want things to happen immediately.”

He emphasized the difficulty of the mission in Iraq and the importance of the coalition standing strong as Iraq’s government progresses. “It’s hard work in Iraq,” the president said. “That's why I'm so proud to have a partner like John Howard who understands it's difficult to get the job done.”

Bush said he assured Howard that a change in the U.S. Congress doesn’t signal a change in the country’s commitment to the Iraq mission. “I … assured him that we're not leaving until this job is done, until Iraq can govern, sustain and defend itself,” he said.

Howard echoed Bush’s sentiments about the need to remain in Iraq until the job is done. “The idea of the coalition leaving in circumstances where the Iraqi people were not soon to be able to look after themselves and to enjoy the democracy they want would be a catastrophic defeat for our cause,” he said. That defeat would extend beyond the Middle East and “would embolden terrorists in that region and it would embolden terrorism in countries like Indonesia,” he said.

Bush called APEC “an important summit” and said it gives the participants an opportunity to discuss, not just free trade, but also other key issues such as North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

“We have a chance to solve this issue peacefully and diplomatically,” he said. “It's important for the world to see that the Security Council resolutions which were passed are implemented. So part of my discussions will be how we fully implement those sanctions that the world has asked for, but also it's a chance to set the conditions right so that the Six-Party Talks will succeed.”

The president said he was pleased to visit Vietnam and said he looks forward to meetings with the country’s leadership. He expressed optimism that two countries once at war can become friends. “I guess my first reaction is history has a long march to it, and that societies change and relationships can constantly be altered to the good,” he said.

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