Bush Discusses War on Terror, Iraqi Sovereignty With Italian, French Leaders
By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jun. 6, 2004 President Bush used his visits with Italian and French leaders June 5 to talk about the war on terrorism and plans for Iraqi sovereignty.
In Europe to commemorate the 60th anniversary the D-Day invasion June 6, the president also addressed the war on terrorism.
In Italy, Bush told Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi he believes the world understands the importance of a free Iraq in the Middle East.
He said there may have been differences of opinion about Saddam Hussein and the enforcement of a U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441, before Operation Iraqi Freedom. Now, however, "the world understands the importance of working with the Iraqis to encourage the development of a free society."
"And that's why it is important for me to remind people that there will be a transfer of full sovereignty to an Iraqi government, and that the Iraqi people will be making the decisions as to how to proceed forward. And we are there to help them," he said. That help will come in the form of security and rebuilding efforts, he said.
The president noted that Italian and American forces would remain in Iraq to help establish security so that the Iraqi people can live their lives "free of fear." And both countries will help rebuild Iraq's infrastructure and help Iraq's economy "grow and prosper," he added.
Bush echoed a message similar to the one he gave the American public during his weekly national radio address June 5, telling the Italians that the "war on terror is the challenge of our time."
"Democracy and prosperity are the antidotes to the bitterness and hatred that feed terrorism," he explained.
"As freedom advances in the Middle East, more and more people in that region will be inspired -- inspired to peace, inspired to dedicate their lives to the welfare of their families and to the success of their nations."
He added that "the bitterness and burning hatreds that feed terrorism will fade away, and America and Italy and the rest of the world will be more safe."
Bush said the coalition is moving forward with a plan to help Iraq achieve democracy and freedom. The Iraqi Governing Council announced the country's new interim leaders as well as cabinet members June 1 right before disbanding itself.
The president also thanked the Italian people their friendship, courage, vision and hope for the future. And he told them that affection between the two nations has "never been stronger" and that the alliance has helped "secure peace in the world."
The president noted that Italy has stood on the front lines with the United States throughout the Cold War, just as the country is doing so now in Iraq and elsewhere.
"Today in the Balkans and in Afghanistan and in Iraq, Americans and Italians are once again defending freedom against the forces of oppression and terror," he said.
In addition, the president told Berlusconi that "all Americans" join him in honoring the more than 20 Italians killed in Iraq. "Their sacrifice was worthy of the ideals of this great nation," he said. "Their service will help make Italy, America and the world more secure, as a free and democratic Iraq arises in the heart of the Middle East."
Berlusconi thanked the president and United States helping his country secure its freedom. He said the celebration of D-Day is important to remember because 60 years ago some 25,000 young Americans sacrificed their lives "to make happier, to make more prosperous and more secure our life here, to give our country freedom."
"And we will be eternally grateful to you for this," he added.
Berlusconi also guaranteed Bush that Italian troops would stay the course in Iraq, saying that he feels his troops and those from other countries can be "helpful in maintaining peace in the construction of a democracy."
"If anyone were to think that it would be advisable to withdraw troops from Iraq, then we would have to do the same from all the other countries in which we have our troops," he said.
"We think that this is actually the opposite of what should be done in order to secure peace in these countries, to make sure that they experience no civil wars and that they prosper until they become established democracies."
Later in the day in France, Bush told President Jacques Chirac that a "free Iraq deserves the full support of the international community."
"The Iraqi people want and deserve freedom, peace, and prosperity, and the nations of the world have a responsibility to help them achieve that," Bush said.