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11/16/04 - BUSH AND BLAIR ON IRAQ - 2004-11-17

U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair met in Washington, D-C, to discuss a variety of issues, including the situation in Iraq. The meeting took place as U.S. and Iraqi forces continued to carry out the operation ordered by Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi aimed at removing insurgents and terrorists from the city of Fallujah.

Mr. Bush said that the operation in Fallujah and other efforts by the coalition will help provide the stability Iraq needs to hold elections for a transitional national assembly in January:

"Prime Minister Allawi authorized military operations to rid Fallujah of Saddam holdouts and foreign terrorists, and American and Iraqi forces have made substantial progress in the last several days. Our coalition is training Iraqi security forces who are performing bravely, and taking increasing responsibility for their country's security. . . . The United States and Great Britain have shown our determination to help Iraqis achieve their liberty and to defend the security of the world. We'll continue to stand with our friends, and we will finish the job."

Prime Minister Blair said that the coalition must complete its mission to ensure that Iraq is stable and democratic:

"And I have no doubt at all that whatever the difficulties the terrorists and insurgents, supporters of Saddam Hussein may pose for us, that we will overcome those difficulties -- ourselves, the multinational force, together with the Iraqi government -- and ensure that Iraq can be that democratic, stable state that the vast majority of Iraqis, I know, will want to see."

The Transitional National Assembly elected in January will draft a permanent Iraqi constitution, to be ratified in a national referendum later next year. An election for a new Iraqi government will then be held before the end of 2005.