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Suicide Bombings Mask Continued Political Progress in Iraq, Bush Says

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 24, 2006 – Though suicide bombings continue to take innocent lives in Iraq, the country's political progress is a truer measure of success in U.S. efforts there, President Bush said here yesterday.

Bush met with reporters at the White House along with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Asked why the world's most powerful military force has been unable to quell the violence in some Iraqi provinces, Bush pointed out that suicide bombings are difficult to prevent and said the tactic has become the "main weapon of the enemy."

"If one were to measure progress on the number of suiciders, ... I think it obscures the steady, incremental march to a democracy we're seeing," the president said. "And so I view progress as a political process going forward that's convincing disaffected Sunnis, for example, to participate, (and) as their unity government that says it's best for all of us to work together to achieve a common objective, which is democracy. Are we able to meet the needs of the 12 million people that defied the car bombers? To me, that's success."

Again emphasizing the difficulty of preventing suicide bombings, the president said the Iraqi government will have to solve that security issue by winning over the people whose beliefs lead them to target innocent people at the expense of their own lives. He also expressed confidence in the continued effort to kill or capture terrorists.

"Trying to stop suiciders -- which we're doing a pretty good job of on occasion -- is difficult to do," he said. "And what the Iraqis are going to have to eventually do is convince those who are conducting (suicide bombings) who are not inspired by al Qaeda, for example, to realize there's a peaceful tomorrow. And those who are being inspired by al Qaeda, we're just going to have to stay on the hunt and bring al Qaeda to justice, and our Army can do that and is doing that right now."

Noting that he frequently talks with military commanders, Bush said progress continues in training Iraqis to assume responsibility for their own nation's security. "And we're making good political progress, as the world saw in the formation of the unity government," he added. "The government has yet to get their full Cabinet in place, although we think that'll happen relatively quickly. And then this sovereign government is going to assess their security situation and their security forces and their needs and work with our commanders."

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Transcript of President Bush's News Conference With Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert

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