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Iraqi President Says Country’s Forces Ready, Willing to Help Secure Baghdad

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 24, 2006 – The Iraqi government is ready to send whatever number of troops is needed to help secure Baghdad, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said today.

“The commander and chief of the Iraqi army can move the units of Iraqi army from different parts of Iraq to Baghdad,” Talabani told CNN’s John King, who was sitting in for Wolf Blitzer on “Late Edition.” “Of course our capital is Baghdad, and we are much interested to secure (it).”

This would help satisfy U.S. Army Maj. Gen. James Thurman’s recent statement that an additional six battalions of Iraqi soldiers, or about 3,000 soldiers, are needed to help quell unrest in Baghdad.

Talabani acknowledged security is an issue, but said it’s the country’s only issue and that life in Iraq has made much progress after emerging from Saddam Hussein’s rule.

“The time of Saddam Hussein, hundreds of thousands were buried in mass graves … and the Iraqi people were deprived from all kinds of democratic rights and free economy,” he said. “Now we have in Iraq only one problem, which is the problem of security.”

Talabani said the Iraq people would continue to train it’s the country’s army and prepare to replace American force in one province each month.

Talabani said he is sorry for the loss of American lives on behalf of his country but that Iraq is grateful for the United States’ liberating efforts.

“We are very sorry for sacrifices of American forces in Iraq. I think that was the price of liberating Iraq and (millions) of Iraqis,” he said. “(The) American government did very important (thing) when they liberated Iraq from the worst kind of dictatorship, which was (affecting) the peace and stability not of Iraqi people only, but of the Middle East.”

Now that his country is not oppressed by Saddam Hussein, Talabani said, it is working to further peace and stability in the Middle East and normalize relations with its neighbors. He recently visited neighboring Iran. He also said he hopes that Iraq will be able to help heal the United States’ relations with Iran.

“We have good relations with Iran and (also) with the United States of America,” Talabani said. “We are thinking that, as much as we can, we must … try to improve relations with United States of America and Iran. This is the way we can achieve our goals and protect our national interest in the area.”

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