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Bush: Elections Are 'Glorious Day' for Iraq


President Bush says Iraq's successful vote for a new national assembly this week was a remarkable moment in the history of freedom. Mr. Bush met Friday with Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations, Samir Sumaidy.

President Bush says he is encouraged by the high turnout in Iraq's vote, strong participation by the country's Sunni minority, and the relatively low violence. Welcoming Ambassador Sumaidy to the White House, Mr. Bush said there is still much work ahead.

"We want to talk about what a glorious day it was yesterday for the Iraqi citizens and what we are going to do to work together to make sure we complete our mission and that is to have an Iraq that can defend itself and sustain itself, an Iraq that will help us defeat the terrorists in this war on terror, an Iraq that will serve as such a powerful example for other countries in the region," said George W. Bush.

President Bush says the vote is a success for Iraq and the United States because it makes America safer from attack as he says it is better to fight terrorists abroad than to face them at home.

Ambassador Sumaidy thanked President Bush and the American people for supporting the electoral process, saying the vote signals a moment of change in the ongoing insurgency.

"I think it was the turning point and the beginning of the end of terrorism in Iraq. Iraqis have written with their blood a chapter of their history which will be remembered for decades," said Samir Sumaidy.

President Bush has long dismissed suggestions of an immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq saying that would embolden the enemy and undermine the country's political future.

The top U.S. general in Iraq, George Casey says he will make recommendations on troop levels in the coming weeks. He told reporters that there are now about 150,000 Americans in Iraq because of heightened security around the vote. He says that number should fall to about 138,000 by early February.

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