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Bush to Welcome New Iraqi President at G-8 Summit

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 7, 2004 – President Bush will greet Iraq's new interim government leader, President Ghazi al-Yawar, at the G-8 Summit starting June 8 at Sea Island, Ga.

"President Bush and his G-8 counterparts are very excited to welcome to the summit the new president of Iraq," U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice told reporters today.

Bush is hosting this year's June 8-10 conference, the 30th such meeting since the first was held in France in 1975. At previous summits world leaders discussed international economic, political and security issues. Today's G-8 members include France, Russia, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Japan, Canada, and the United States.

The Sea Island summit is taking place during "challenging times," Rice observed. Attendees, she noted, will likely discuss initiatives "to promote freedom, democracy and prosperity" in the broader Middle East.

The Iraqi people, Rice observed, have been liberated from Saddam Hussein's despotic rule. Today, she noted, Iraq's people "are taking their first steps toward freedom."

A free and self-governing Iraq, Rice asserted, "will make the international community safer and more secure and become a linchpin for freedom and reform in the region." A democratic Iraq, she added, will also "deny terrorists a base of operations and discredit their ideology."

Rice reported that work on a U.N. Security Council resolution that clarifies U.S. and international security efforts in Iraq after the June 30 handover of sovereignty is taking "a very positive direction that should reach conclusion very soon."

Rice asserted: "It's enormously important for the Iraqis to be in a position to speak for themselves -- that is, to have a government that is now just a couple of weeks from regaining sovereignty and full responsibility for Iraqi affairs."

Other summit topics, Rice reported, will likely include countering proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; strengthening international cooperation in the war on terror; expanding global peacekeeping efforts; promoting global economic growth and expanded trade; recruiting the private sector to reduce poverty; increasing global efforts to combat HIV/AIDS, polio and famine; and protecting the environment by reducing harmful pollution.

Besides Iraq, Rice said the G-8 leaders are also slated to meet with leaders from Afghanistan, Bahrain, Jordan, Tunisia, Turkey, Yemen, Algeria, Ghana, Senegal, South Africa, Nigeria and Uganda.

Rice said Bush is expected to discuss his broader Middle East initiative with leaders of the Middle East countries at the summit.

While Saudi and Egyptian representatives aren't expected at the Sea Island summit, Rice pointed out "we have had a lot of discussions with the Egyptians, and indeed with the Saudis, about the need for a change in the Middle East, and the need for reform."

The European Union has observer status at the G-8 meetings. Consequently, the President of the Commission Romano Prodi and President of the Council of the European Union, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, will attend the summit for the EU.

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