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Bush Meets Iraq's Kurdish Leader


President Bush says America will stand by those who have voted for a democratic future in Iraq by supporting a new constitution. Mr. Bush met in the Oval Office with the leader of Iraq's Kurdish region, which enjoys broad autonomy in northern Iraq.

President Bush hailed Massoud Barzani as a man of courage who challenged Saddam Hussein and backed Iraq's new constitution.

"The president was very helpful on the current constitution," said Mr. Bush. "I assure him that America will stand with the people who desire a free and democratic Iraq. The president has got a clear vision for the future of Iraq."

Mr. Bush says that vision includes people of different religions and ethnicities living together in peace.

The president spoke of Mr. Barzani's clothes, an olive drab jumpsuit with wide sashes at the belt and a gold shirt, as evidence of how things have changed in Iraq. Mr. Bush says the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government would have been killed not all that long ago for wearing such an outfit but now wears it freely with Saddam Hussein deposed from power.

On the day when U.S. fatalities in Iraq reached 2,000, Mr. Barzani said the people of Iraq appreciate the sacrifices of U.S. troops who have died since the start of the 2003 invasion. He spoke through a translator.

"At a time that we express our condolences and we express our sympathies to the families of your brave men and women in uniform, those who have sacrificed their lives in order to make other people free and liberal," said Mr. Barzani.

Mr. Barzani says if terrorists are not stopped in Iraq they will attack elsewhere. He says he is confident that with continued U.S. support, the country will be a success in the end.

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