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Bush Welcomes New Iraqi Government


Politicians in Iraq have broken a four-month deadlock over the formation of a new government with the nomination of Shi'ite leader Jawad al-Maliki to be prime minister. President Bush says the new government will make America more secure.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has asked al-Maliki to form a new government within 30 days, ending a stand-off over power sharing between Sunni Arabs, Shi'ites and Kurds.

In Saturday's session of Iraq's new parliament, President Talabani, a Kurd, was re-elected for another term while Sunni Arab Mahmoud al-Mashhadani was elected speaker of parliament.

Al-Maliki says his appointment shows that the alliance of Shi'ite parties who led in parliamentary voting in December is committed to including all Iraqis in a new government. The prime minister designate says members of the United Iraqi Alliance have proven once again that they are capable of overcoming difficulties and will pave the way to form a government of national unity combining all Iraqi factions and political powers.

Traveling in California, President Bush said the compromise reflects Iraq's diversity and the will of its people who defied terrorists by going to the polls in December.

Mr. Bush called it an historic achievement that will make America more secure. "The new government has a responsibility to deploy the growing strength of the Iraqi security forces to defeat the terrorists and insurgents and establish control over the militias," he said.

President Bush says it is an opportunity to open a new chapter in America's partnership with the Iraqi people. He says he will work to reassess tactics, adjust methods, and strengthen mutual efforts to achieve victory in what he says is the central front in the fight against terrorism.

In all those major challenges, Mr. Bush says Iraq's government will not be alone. "America is helping Iraq's young democracy move forward. Iraqis and Americans are fighting side by side against a common enemy. We are going to defeat the terrorists in Iraq. We will deny them safe haven. And a free Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will be a powerful blow to the terrorists and a beacon of liberty for people across that region," he said.

President Bush thanked U.S. servicemen and women who are fighting in Iraq, American diplomats serving there, and their families.

He says the nation remembers what he calls the fallen heroes who gave their lives to bring liberty to Iraq and security to America. Mr. Bush says he will honor that sacrifice by completing the mission. "There is going to be more tough fighting ahead in Iraq and there will be more days of sacrifice and struggle. Yet the enemies of freedom have suffered a real blow today. And we have taken a great stride on the march to victory," he said.

Mr. Bush says Iraqis are showing the world that democracy is worth the wait and that liberty is worth the sacrifice.

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