Iraq's Sovereignty Deserves "Full Support," Says President
By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jun. 3, 2004 President Bush, with close ally Australian Prime Minister John Howard by his side, told reporters today that Iraq's sovereignty deserves the "full support" of the international community as that country works toward a freely elected government in the months ahead.
The president's remarks at the White House came after meeting with Howard to discuss the coalition's progress in Iraq, as well as economic issues between the two countries. "Our two nations were allies in every major conflict of the last century," Bush said. "We've each lost citizens in the first war of the new century. I will never forget standing with the prime minister on September the 10th, 2001, the day before the world changed forever."
He noted that Americans "will never forget the vicious attack in Bali which claimed the lives of dozens of innocent Australians," and that the two countries are "on the front lines of freedom" together. "As members of the common coalition our two nations helped to free the people of Afghanistan and Iraq from the grip of tyranny," he continued. "Today we're working together to help the Afghan and Iraqi people build free societies and prevent tyranny's return."
The president told reporters that Iraq took a major step June 1 when the new interim government was named. That government, he said, will assume "full sovereignty" on June 30, though, he added, that the coalition will remain in Iraq to help them along the path of freedom.
In the meantime, he said the new Iraqi government's foremost task will be to help prepare the country for national elections no later than January 2005. Bush pointed out the coalition must work to provide the needed security to make those elections possible.
He said that United States is working on a new U.N. Security Council resolution that will express international support for Iraq's interim government. That resolution will also "reaffirm the world's security commitment to the Iraqi people, and encourage other U.N. members to join in the effort of building a free Iraq," he noted.
Howard agreed on Iraq's future, telling reporters that the establishment of the Iraqi interim government is a major step forward. "It is a light to the future, so far as Iraq is concerned. It is a visible demonstration of the willingness of Iraqi leaders to stand before their people and to show leadership," Howard said. "The Western world, the countries of the Free World, have a lot at stake in relation to Iraq," he added.
The prime minister also vowed that Australian defense forces would stay in Iraq until the job assigned to the individual force elements have been completed. He said this is the "worst time imaginable" for coalition allies to show weakness in Iraq.
The president departs for Europe today to take part in ceremonies in Normandy, France, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of D-Day. From there, Bush will host a G-8 Summit in Georgia, where he said he will urge world leaders to support Iraq's new government and to help advance the "momentum of freedom" in the broader Middle East.