Media availability with Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Iraqi Minister of Defense Abd al-Qadir al-Mufriji from Iraq
MR. : (In Arabic.)
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ROBERT GATES: The minister and I had a very good meeting. We discussed progress in relation to the Baghdad security plan. We discussed the problem of training and equipping the Iraq forces and the overall military situation of the country.
The United States sees Iraq as an important regional ally and a vital partner in the global war on terrorism. Our commitment to Iraq is long term, but it is not a commitment to have our young men and women patrolling Iraq’s streets open-endedly. It is a commitment to work with the Iraqis to ensure their sovereignty, train their legitimate security forces, and provide support for security sector reform and modernization.
As the minister indicated, I described my visits with officials in Jordan and in Egypt and my comments to those governments of the importance of supporting this government here in Baghdad, the importance of them is reaching out to other Arab states and encouraging them to support this government, as well as reaching out to Sunnis here in Iraq to support this government.
I told the prime minister that we continue to be committed to this government and we are committed to the Baghdad security plan, a strategy for buying time for progress toward justice and reconciliation here in Iraq. I expressed the hope that the council of representatives would not recess for the summer without passing laws on hydrocarbons, deBa’athification, provincial elections, and other measures. These measures will not fix all of the problems in Iraq, but they will manifest the will of the entire government of Iraq to be a government for all of the people of Iraq in the future.
We also talked about the importance of gestures of reconciliation and commended the prime minister, as an example, for this visit to Al Anbar. And I finally offered whatever help we could provide in pursuing this path of reconciliation. The prime minister and I also continued the discussion that we began last December on the longer-term relationship between the United States and Iraq.