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Cheney On Iraq

Members of the U.S. Fourth Infantry Division found a bomb near a mosque in the Saydiyah neighborhood of Baghdad, the Iraqi capital. The bomb was safely detonated where it only caused minimal damage to the mosque and no harm to Iraqis.

U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney says that terrorists "understand what is at stake in Iraq":

"That's why they commit acts of horror, calculated to shock and to intimidate the civilized world – beheading men, murdering mothers and children, and killing innocent Iraqis in police stations, mosques, buses, restaurants, stores, and on street corners."

Mr. Cheney says that the February bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra, one of the holiest sites for all Shiite Muslims, is "a clear attempt to ignite a civil war":

"We can expect further acts of violence and destruction by the enemies of freedom. Yet the Iraqi people have expressed their own desire for liberty by voting in free elections three different times over the last year, and we remain optimistic that Iraq's political factions will work together in forming a stable, viable, representative government. We expect, as well, that as freedom takes hold, the ideologies of hatred and resentment will lose their appeal."

Iraq's leading Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, asked the Iraqi people "to maintain the unity and safety of Iraq." He said his message "to the Iraqi people is to show solidarity and not to fall prey to projects aimed at compromising the unity of the country."

President George W. Bush made much the same point. "The people of Iraq and their leaders," he said, "must make a choice. The choice is chaos or unity. The choice is a free society, or a society dictated by evil people who would kill innocents."

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