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Bush On Iraqi Progress

Iraqi security officials say they have killed more than thirty insurgents and arrested over four-hundred others since terrorists blew off the dome of a major Shiite shrine in Samarra, 96 kilometers north of Baghdad. Iraqi army officer Major General Jassim Mohamed says all of those killed and arrested "are Iraqis and affiliated to different terrorists groups and especially al-Qaida in Iraq."

President George W. Bush says that Iraq's government "is taking concrete steps to determine how the attacks happened and the necessary actions to help move the political process forward." It is, says Mr. Bush, "a moment of choosing for the Iraqi people":

"The response by [Shiite leader] the Grand Ayatollah Sistani and many other leaders has been constructive and very important, and we appreciate their leadership."

But, Mr. Bush says, "Iraq remains a serious situation."

"I'm optimistic because the Iraqi people have spoken, and the Iraqi people made their intentions clear. In December, more than eleven million Iraqis sent a clear message to the world and to the terrorists. They want their freedom. They want their country to be a democracy. Each of these elections that took place last year saw larger and broader participation than the one that came before. And with the results from the December elections in, the Iraqi leaders are now working to form a new government under a new constitution with different factions competing for position and jockeying for power."

"The days ahead in Iraq," said President Bush, "are going to be difficult and exhausting. We're likely to see a lot of political bargaining," he said. "That doesn't happen under dictatorships. . . .Yet out of negotiations now taking place in Iraq, a free government will emerge that will represent the will of the Iraqi people."

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