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5/8/03 - HELPING IRAQ REBUILD - 2003-05-08

The U.S.-led coalition is working closely with the Iraqi people to help them rebuild their country. As President George W. Bush said, the coalition has confidence in the future of a free Iraq:

"Every day, Iraqis are moving toward democracy and embracing the responsibilities of active citizenship. Every day, life in Iraq improves as coalition troops work to secure unsafe areas and bring food and medical care to those in need. America pledged to rid Iraq of an oppressive regime, and we kept our word. America now pledges to help Iraqis build a prosperous and peaceful nation, and we will keep our word again."

U.S. Agency for International Development teams are helping to restore electricity and water and to reopen schools and hospitals. The coalition is protecting Iraq's oil production infrastructure.

One-and-three quarter billion dollars for Iraq have been collected from other countries. Kuwait, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt are among those contributing to the rebuilding.

But the most important mission for the coalition, said President Bush, is to help ensure that the Iraqi people have the opportunity to live in freedom:

"The desire for freedom is not the property of one culture, it is the universal hope of human beings in every culture -- whether you're Sunni or Shia or Kurd or Chaldean or Assyrian or Turkmen or Christian or Jew or Muslim. No matter what your faith, freedom is God's gift to every person in every nation."

As President Bush said, "Iraq can be an example of peace and prosperity and freedom to the entire Middle East. It'll be a hard journey, but at every step of the way, Iraq will have a steady friend in the American people."