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Bush Meets With Al-Jaafari

In a meeting at the White House with Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, President George W. Bush said that the Iraqi people deserve praise for having moved toward democracy despite attempts by terrorists to disrupt the process:

"Seven months after resuming sovereignty over their nation, the Iraqi people defied the car bombers and assassins to hold their first free elections in a half century. In April, the newly elected transitional national assembly formed a government and appointed Dr. Jaafari as the prime minister. This month, after a spirited debate, the Iraqis reached an agreement to expand their constitutional drafting committee to include more Sunni Arabs, so that this important community also has a strong voice in shaping the future of their country. . . .I commend Prime Minister Jaafari and his fellow Iraqis for their hard work and courage."

Speaking through a translator, Prime Minister al-Jaafari said the people of Iraq will continue to fight for democracy:

"So many people said that democracy will never stand in Iraq, said that elections will never be held in Iraq, and they said also that the government will never be established in Iraq, and they said there would be no constitution - but everything will be there and the whole world will see that changes in Iraq happen because of the great will of the people of Iraq and the countries that are assisting us."

One of the next tasks for the Iraqi government is to draft a new constitution, which is scheduled to be voted on by the Iraqi people on October 15th. The road ahead, said Mr. Bush, will not be easy:

"The killings and roadside bombings that we see underscore that freedom in Iraq is opposed by a violent and ruthless enemy with no regard for human life. . . .The terrorists are fighting in Iraq because they know a free Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will deal a severe blow to an ideology that lives on oppression and fear."

"The enemy's goal is to drive us out of Iraq before the Iraqis have established a secure, democratic government," said President Bush. "They will not succeed."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.