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04/23/04 - COALITION CHANGES IN IRAQ - 2004-04-24

Spain, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic have announced they will be pulling their troops out of Iraq. Although it is disappointing that these nations intend to remove their troops from Iraq, the coalition remains strong and is committed to the successful completion of its mission.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan says that countries “have to make their own decision”:

“This is a time of testing, when enemies of freedom are seeking to derail the transition to sovereignty and the transition to democracy. It’s important that we stay the course and help the Iraqi people, as we work to transfer sovereignty and build a free and democratic future for the Iraqi people. And that’s exactly what we will continue to do.”

Albania has said it may increase the number of soldiers serving in Iraq. And Ukraine, Australia, Italy, Portugal, and Slovakia are among those countries that intend to keep their commitment to the people of Iraq.

“The enemies of freedom want to spread fear and chaos and they want to intimidate,” says Mr. McClellan. “But the coalition is strong and...will continue to work to help the Iraqi people.”

Ivan Gasparovic is the newly elected president of Slovakia. As he put it: “Would it be better to withdraw from Iraq and leave free hands to terrorism and leave defeated, or prevail and do everything possible to stop terrorism from spreading?”