Iraqi President Jalal Talabani says if voters approve the country's proposed constitution in a referendum later this month, it will strengthen the government and help convince the nation that terrorists cannot destroy the will of the Iraqi people. Mr. Talabani made the comments at the headquarters of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty in Prague.
President Talabani, who is on his first state visit to Europe since taking office in April, says approving the constitution is the next step in building a democratic Iraq.
"The referendum on the constitution, I hope it will be successful," he said. "When we will have a constitution, then we have a foundation, the source for all laws and the main law for the Iraqi government and authorities on how to rule the country. This will be the beginning of democratization and this will help, of course, to convince Iraqi people that they are enjoying their democratic rights within the constitution."
President Talabani says approval of the constitution will also help convince people that the government is stable. He says once the constitution is in place, it will help convince Iraqi citizens that terrorists cannot defeat the will of the people.
"It will help to encourage our people to fight against terrorism in a better way," he said. "But it does not mean, and we will never say, that the constitution will solve all the problems."
President Talabani says he is opposed to setting a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led coalition troops from Iraq, saying it would strengthen the insurgency.
Iraqis are scheduled to vote on the constitution October 15, and if it is approved elections for a new government are to be held by the end of this year.