Accessibility links

Bush Upbeat on Iraq, Downplays Cabinet Delay

President Bush says he believes a new Iraqi government will be chosen soon, and that the Iraqi nation will serve as a positive model for the region. The Bush administration is downplaying problems surrounding the selection process.

President Bush hails the move toward democracy in Iraq, and makes clear he remains optimistic about the future.

"By claiming their own freedom, the Iraqis are transforming the region, and they are doing it by example and inspiration rather than by conquest and domination," said Mr. Bush.

The president spoke just hours after the second meeting of Iraq's new national assembly ended in bitterness and acrimony, with no progress in the selection of national leaders.

Mr. Bush acknowledged the divisions, but sounded confident they will be overcome.

"The new transitional national assembly includes people and parties with differing visions for the future of their country,” he added. “In a democratic Iraq, these differences will be resolved through debate and persuasion instead of force and intimidation."

The president stressed the mere fact the assembly is meeting at all is important, and added the political process will produce results.

"We look forward to working with the government that emerges from this process,” he said. “We're confident that this new government will be inclusive, will respect to human rights and will uphold fundamental freedoms for all Iraqis.”

The remarks came in a brief address to a group of Iraqis who live in the United States. Also in attendance at the White House were delegations of Iraqi law students and religious leaders in Washington for various programs.

The president said he wanted to congratulate all those who voted in the January 30 elections in Iraq. He said the more than eight million people who cast ballots defied terrorists and assassins, and their new leaders are showing a spirit of compromise after three decades of dictatorship.

Some of the Iraqi Americans who attended the event at the White House later told reporters they are concerned about the delays in choosing a new government. They said they shared those concerns with the president, but added they think, overall, Iraq is on the right track.