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U.S. 'Will Stay the Course' in Iraq, Bush Says

By Casie Vinall
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 10, 2003 – The United States "will stay the course" in Iraq, President Bush said today in Gaberone, Botswana, following a meeting with President Festus Gontebanye Mogae.

Commending Mogae on his service and leadership, Bush said he appreciates his "commitment to democracy and freedom, to rule of law and transparency."

"We've got a great friend in the war on terror," Bush said. "We both understand that we must work together to share intelligence, to cut off money, to forever deny terrorists a chance to plot and plan and hurt those of us who love freedom."

The U.S. president noted that Ambassador Jerry Bremer, the American civil administrator in Iraq, reports that "the vast majority of Iraqi citizens are thrilled that Saddam Hussein is no longer in power." However, a "security issue" remains, and it is something that must be dealt with "person by person."

"We're going to have to remain tough," Bush said.

Involving the Iraqi people in the reconstruction effort is essential, he said. "The more involved the Iraqi citizens become in securing their own infrastructure and the more involved Iraqi citizens are in the transitional government, the more likely it is the average citizen will understand that, once again, the apologists for Saddam Hussein are bringing misery on their country."

As freedom spreads, Bush said, the world will see what Saddam Hussein did to the mentality of the Iraqi people.

"We've discovered torture chambers where people, citizens were tortured just based upon their beliefs," he said. "We've discovered mass graves -- graves for not only men and women, but graves for children. We discovered a prison for children."

Saddam aimed to intimidate the Iraqi people, Bush said, "and slowly, but surely, the people of Iraq are learning the responsibility that comes with being a free society."

Coalition efforts in Iraq have only been underway for a short time, Bush reminded reporters, and it's going to take far longer for people "to recognize the great joys of freedom and the responsibilities that come with freedom.

"We're making steady progress," he said. "A free Iraq will mean a peaceful world. And it's very important for us to stay the course, and we will stay the course."

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