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Bush Praises Coalition Troops During Qatar Visit

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 5, 2003 – President Bush thanked coalition service members for enlarging "the realm of liberty" during a stop in Qatar today.

Bush spoke to American, British, Australian and Polish service members at the base that served as a headquarters for U.S. Central Command during Operation Iraqi Freedom. It was the last stop of a trip that took him to Europe, Russia and the Middle East.

In 100-degree heat, Bush praised the U.S. soldiers, saying that America had sent them on a mission "to remove a grave threat and to liberate an oppressed people, and that mission has been accomplished."

Bush also addressed the fact that coalition forces have not found Iraqi weapons of mass destruction yet. "We're on the look," Bush said. "We'll reveal the truth."

Bush pledged that Iraq will not serve as an arsenal for terrorists. "We recently found two mobile biological weapons facilities which were capable of producing biological agents," he said.

Saddam Hussein "is a man who spent decades hiding tools of mass murder," the president noted. "He knew the inspectors were looking for them. You know better than me he's got a big country in which to hide them."

He told the service members that each is a credit to the United States and that America is proud of them. "We are in a war on global terror, and because of you, we're winning the war on global terror," he said.

The president pointed out that they have performed brilliantly in all aspects of the war of terror. "In Afghanistan, forces directed from here (in) Qatar, you delivered decisive blows against the Taliban and against al Qaeda," he said. "And now the people of Afghanistan are free."

In praising the men and women who served in Afghanistan, with Combined Joint Task ForceHorn of Africa and in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Bush said their commitment has made it clear that the United States will hunt terrorists down.

"Our actions sent a long, clear message that our nation is strong and our nation is compassionate," he said. "And we also sent another clear message: Dictators can no longer shield themselves behind innocent people. Those who threaten the security of others now need to worry about their own."

Bush told the service members that there is a lot of work left to do in Iraq, and the United States will stay the course. "We will stand with them as they build a stable democracy and a peaceful future," he said.

He said U.S. forces will take aggressive steps to increase order throughout Iraq and will remove Baathist officials from positions of power and influence.

U.S. and coalition officials will continue to work on the Iraq's infrastructure. "We also understand that a more just political system will develop when people have food in their stomachs, and their lights work, and they can turn on a faucet and they can find some clean water things that Saddam did not do for them," he said.

"See, he spent more time building luxurious palaces than he did in building an infrastructure to take care of the Iraqi citizens. And the United States and our friends and allies will first take care of the Iraqi citizens."

Bush said he was encouraged that oil is beginning to flow out of Iraq, giving the citizens of the country money to fund a special account on behalf of the Iraqi people rather than being skimmed off by "greedy gangsters."

Bush remembered those who died in the operation to liberate Iraq. "We fight for freedom, and we sacrifice for freedom, and we have lost some of our finest," he noted. He told the service members that those who died served more than just the United States, but the cause of freedom.

"Because of you, America and our friends and allies, those of us who love freedom are now more secure," the president said. "You have justified the confidence that your country has placed in you. You've served your country well. Your commander in chief is grateful. And as importantly, more importantly, millions of American citizens are grateful for what you have done. You believe in America and America believes in you."

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