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Bush Pledges Full Transfer of Sovereignty in Iraq - 2004-05-28


President Bush says U.S. officials are making progress toward a new U.N. resolution on the future of Iraq. Mr. Bush is continuing to seek support for that resolution with a telephone call to the Russian president and an Oval Office meeting with the Danish prime minister.

President Bush says it was an open and candid conversation with Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

The Danish leader is among those who have expressed concerns about parts of the new U.S. and British resolution on Iraq, specifically, how much autonomy a transitional Iraqi government will have, with more than 130,000 U.S. troops remaining in the country after the June 30 hand-over.

Speaking in the Rose Garden following their meeting, Mr. Rasmussen said that government must be free to make its own decisions.

"We need a transfer of full sovereignty to an Iraqi government, an Iraqi government, which will be provided with all the signs and principles of a sovereign government," he said. "From June 30, international military presence in Iraq will be provided on request from this new Iraqi government."

Prime Minister Rasmussen says the 500 Danish troops now in Iraq will stay on after June 30, but only if asked to do so by the transitional government.

He also welcomed Washington's assurances that the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. troops will be fully investigated, and those responsible will be held accountable.

President Bush says he reassured the Danish leader that the government chosen by U.N. representative Lakhdar Brahimi will have real power.

"I told the prime minister that our government and our coalition will transfer full sovereignty, complete and full sovereignty, to an Iraqi government that will be picked by Mr. Brahimi of the United Nations," said President Bush. "He said, 'Do you mean full sovereignty?' I said, 'I mean full sovereignty.' "

Mr. Bush also telephoned Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss plans for Iraq. Mr. Bush says they agreed to work together toward an arrangement that will enable coalition troops to help the Iraqi people secure the country, ahead of elections tentatively planned for January.

"I told him, I would continue to work with countries around the world to build support for the new Iraqi government, so that the Iraqi people have a chance to live in a free and just society, just like we do," he said.

President Putin says a new U.N. resolution can only be effective, if it allows for what he calls real Iraqi sovereignty. Following a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Mr. Putin again called for an international conference on Iraq.

President Mubarak called for all foreign forces to leave Iraq, and said the transfer of power there should preserve Iraq's multi-ethnic and multi-national culture.

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