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Bush, Maliki to Meet in Jordan


Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and U.S. President George Bush meet in Jordan, Wednesday. Mr. Bush says terrorists are trying to bring down the government in Baghdad and he wants to know what the United States can do to help stop them.

President Bush flies to Jordan following a summit of the NATO alliance in Latvia to meet with King Abdullah and Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki about continuing sectarian violence in Iraq.

Mr. Bush says terrorists are fueling that violence, in hopes of toppling the unity government in Baghdad. He wants to hear from the prime minister about his plans to restore security.

"We will discuss the situation on the ground in his country; our ongoing efforts to transfer more responsibility to the Iraqi security forces; and the responsibility of other nations in the region to support the security and stability of Iraq. We'll continue to be flexible, and we'll make the changes necessary to succeed. But there's one thing I'm not going to do. I am not going to pull our troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete," he said

The president says completing that mission means the establishment of an Iraqi government that can sustain itself and defend itself and preventing Iraq from being used as a base for terrorist attacks, elsewhere.

Mr. Bush says fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan is part of a broader struggle between moderation and extremism in the Middle East. He says the struggle there is a fight against what he calls a "hateful ideology" seeking to impose totalitarian rule.

"They seek to convince America and our allies that we cannot defeat them and that our only hope is to withdraw and abandon an entire region to their domination. The war on terror we fight today is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st Century. And, in this struggle, we can accept nothing less than victory for our children and our grandchildren," he said.

As Mr. Bush considers changes to American policy in Iraq, he says he is looking forward to hearing from a bipartisan panel of former American officials studying the issue. Among their recommendations is likely to be wider consultation with Iraq's neighbors, including Iran and Syria.

Asked if he would consider direct talks with those nations -- who Mr. Bush says are trying to destabilize the democratically-elected government in Lebanon -- the president said Iraq is a sovereign state free to pursue its own foreign policy.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani was in Tehran, this week, for meetings with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The ayatollah blamed the violence in Iraq on the United States and its allies, but says Iran is ready to help restore security in Iraq, if the government in Baghdad asks.

President Bush's meeting with Prime Minister Maliki comes after the publication of a classified memo raising doubts about the Iraqi leader. The "New York Times" says the memo from National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley expresses serious concerns about the prime minister's capacity to control sectarian violence.

The newspaper report says the memo was written after Hadley visited Baghdad, last month, for a one-on-one meeting with the prime minister.

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