President Bush says the death of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi will not stop the violence in Iraq, but it will help. Mr. Bush says it is too soon to say whether Iraqi security forces will be able to take charge of their own country by the end of next year.
President Bush says he is thrilled by Zarqawi's death and proud of U.S. troops, who, he says, performed brilliantly in bringing the terrorist leader "to justice."
"Removing Zarqawi is a major blow to al-Qaida," he said. "It is not going to end the war. It is certainly not going to end the violence. But it is going to help a lot."
Following a meeting with Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, President Bush said it is a big deal to have gotten Zarqawi, but he does not want Americans to think the war in Iraq is won with the death of a single person.
"I am confident that al-Qaida will try to regroup and kill other people, in order to say, 'Well, we haven't lost our way.' I believe that," he said. "I also know that there are criminal elements and irritated people inside Iraq, who will try to stop the progress of the government. They will continue to bomb. The problem we have in this war is that, all they have to do is [to] kill some innocent people by a car bomb, and it looks like they are winning."
Mr. Bush says it takes a major event, such as an election, or Zarqawi's death to, show that coalition forces are making progress. He warns, there are still tough days ahead in Iraq, as he says the enemy has the capacity to get on television screens with death and destruction.
President Bush and Prime Minister Rasmussen met at the presidential retreat at Camp David outside Washington to discuss Iraq, where Denmark has about 500 troops.
Mr. Rasmussen says the new Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, told him he is optimistic that Iraqi forces can take charge of their own security by the end of 2007. President Bush says they will have a better feel for how realistic that prediction is once the new Cabinet begins to function.
Prime Minister Rasmussen expressed concern about reports that U.S. Marines last year killed as many as 24 unarmed civilians in the town of Haditha, saying the allegations damage coalition efforts, and offend its values.
"If the allegations concerning Haditha show up to be true, it is definitely not what the coalition - what America, what Denmark - stand for," he said. "On the contrary, we are in Iraq to promote freedom, democracy and respect for human rights, and, of course, we should comply with these basic principles in all our behavior."
The allegations are under investigation, and Prime Minister Rasmussen says President Bush assured him if there is any wrongdoing, those responsible will be prosecuted.