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Bush Meets With Top Iraqi Shiite Leader in Washington

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 4, 2006 – The United States is committed to working with the Iraqi government to make it capable of securing Iraq from the extremists seeking to derail the young democracy there, President Bush said here today after meeting with a top Iraq Shiite leader.

“I told him that we're not satisfied with the pace of progress in Iraq and that we want to continue to work with the sovereign government of Iraq to accomplish our mutual objectives, which is a free country that can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself; a free country which will serve as an ally in the war against the extremists and radicals and terrorists,” Bush said of his meeting with Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

Bush thanked Hakim for his commitment to a unity government and his strong position against the murder of innocent Iraqis. Elected and society leaders must reject violence for Iraq to become a unified democracy, Bush noted.

Hakim said his conversation with Bush focused on how to advance the Iraqi government, because the issues at stake in Iraq are important to the region and the United States. Solving the problems in Iraq requires coordination between the U.S. and Iraq on the security, political and economic fronts, he said.

“The U.S. interest, the Iraqi interest, the regional interest, they are all linked,” Hakim said through a translator. “Therefore, it is very important when we deal with this issue we look at the interests of the Iraqi people. If we don't, this whole issue could backfire and could harm the interests of the region, the United States, and Iraq as well.”

Iraq’s problems have to be solved by Iraqis, Hakim said, but the leaders welcome any efforts that could enhance the democratic reality in Iraq and protect the constitutional role of the country. He noted that Iraq has already gone a long way toward democracy, and the liberation of Iraq has required sacrifice from Iraqis, Americans and coalition forces.

Iraq now has a government that is determined to combat terror and violence, and believes in the unity of the country, Hakim said.

“We will work very hard and seek all forms of cooperation at the international level and the regional level in order to defeat terrorism that is trying to use Iraq as a base in order to sabotage the future of that nation,” he said.

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