Bush, Maliki Agree to Speed Up Timeline for Iraqi Security Responsibility
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 30, 2006 President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki today agreed to work to accelerate the process of training Iraqi security forces and transferring security responsibility for Iraq to the Iraqi government.
“We agreed that reform of the Iraqi security ministries and agencies and addressing the issue of militias should be accelerated,” the two said in a joint statement issued after they met in Amman, Jordan. “The ultimate solution to stabilizing Iraq and reducing violence is true national reconciliation and capable and loyal Iraqi forces dedicated to protecting all the Iraqi people.”
The two leaders gave no specific timeline.
During their meeting, Bush and Maliki were briefed on progress by the “Joint Committee on Accelerating the Transferring of Security Responsibility,” a U.S. government group of experts established in October. Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., commander of Multinational Force Iraq, and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad briefed both leaders on “how to accelerate responsibility to the Iraqi government so this person elected by the people can take the fight to those who want to destroy a young democracy,” Bush said.
He said he is encouraged that Maliki is seeking more control over his own country’s security situation. “A sign of leadership is for somebody to say, ‘I want to be able to have the tools necessary to protect my people,’” Bush said.
“He’s the right guy for Iraq, and we’re going to help him,” Bush said. “And it’s in our interest to help him for the sake of peace.”
The president said he understands that Maliki is anxious to make life better for his citizens. “Here’s a man who has been elected by the people; the people expect him to respond, and he doesn’t have the capacity to respond,” Bush said of Maliki. “And so we want to accelerate that capacity. We want him to be in the lead in taking the fight against the enemies of his own country.”
Bush said Maliki is frustrated because “he doesn’t have the tools necessary to take care of those who break the law.”
Bush emphasized that training a capable Iraqi security force has been the United States’ intent in Iraq. “Our goal is to ensure that the prime minister has more capable forces under his control so his government can fight the terrorists and the death squads and provide security and stability in his country,” he said.
Maliki agreed. “We have visions in Iraq,” he said. “We are at the steps of transformation into a new stage where we’ll have security plans that we believe will be effective and will deliver what is required.”
He also reassured Bush that the Iraqi security forces would be up to the challenge. “Be assured that the Iraqi security forces have reached a good level of competency and efficiency to protect Iraq as a country and to protect its people,” he said.