Bush determined to see Iraq elections on Jan. 30
AP White House Correspondent
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Bush acknowledged Monday that American military forces “can never guarantee 100 percent security” for Iraq’s elections Jan. 30, but said the voting must proceed on schedule to let people choose democracy over terrorism.
Bush met with Ghazi al-Yawer, the interim Iraqi president, and Jordan’s King Abdullah II, in the White House on a day when attackers forced their way into the heavily guarded U.S. consulate in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. Eight people, none American, were killed.
“The attacks in Saudi Arabia remind us that the terrorists are still on the move,” Bush said at an Oval Office photo opportunity with al-Yawer. “They’re interested in affecting the will of free countries. They want us to leave Saudi Arabia. They want us to leave Iraq. … And that’s why these elections in Iraq are very important.”
Iraq has been riddled with violence that has claimed the lives of more than 1,200 U.S. troops.
To bolster security for next month’s voting, the United States announced last week it was increasing its military force in Iraq to about 150,00, the highest level of the war, including the initial invasion in March 2003.
Bush said the 12,000-troop increase will help make polling places safer although “you can never guarantee 100 percent security. But the Iraqi people have a chance to say to the world, ‘We choose democracy over terrorism.”
Al-Yawer – an influential leader in Sunni Muslim regions of Iraq where the fiercest battles against insurgents have been waged – wants Iraq’s Jan. 30 election held on time, but other Sunni leaders want it postponed, saying ongoing violence in these areas would keep people from voting.
“Right now we’re faced with the armies of darkness who have no objective but to undermine the political process and incite civil war in Iraq,” al-Yawer said. “But I want to assure the whole world that this will never, ever happen, that we in Iraq are committed to move along.” He said victory “is not only possible, it’s a fact. We can see it. It’s there.”
In his meeting with Abdullah, Bush said the United States would engage in Middle East peace efforts to achieve a Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace with Israel.
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