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Bush Consults With Other Leaders on Iraq

President Bush is urging Iraq's interim leaders to bring all factions in the country into the political process. One day after Iraqis went to the polls, Mr. Bush consulted with both supporters and critics of his Iraq policy.

The president is talking to leaders in Iraq, in Europe, and at the United Nations.

The overall message in all the calls is the same: the election was a big step forward for freedom and a blow to the terrorists.

White House Spokesman Scott McClellan says President Bush spoke to Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, and that country's interim president, Ghazi al-Yawar, about the next steps in the political process. He says they all agreed on the need to bring in all factions, including the Sunni minority.

Mr. Bush also consulted with his strongest ally on Iraq, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and two of the biggest opponents of the U.S.-led invasion, French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

Mr. McClellan says the final call in the busy round of presidential telephone diplomacy went to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. The White House spokesman says President Bush thanked the United Nations for its work organizing elections in Iraq.

"And the secretary general emphasized that the United Nations was prepared to continue its support to the Iraqi people, particularly in providing assistance to their efforts to draft a new constitution and their efforts to reach out to all parties to participate in the political process," said Mr. McClellan.

During a session with reporters, Mr. McClellan was asked about new calls from some congressional Democrats for a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. He said coalition forces will remain as long as they are needed.

"Timetables send the wrong message to the terrorists that all terrorists have to do is wait, and they can plan and co-ordinate around those timetables," he said.

The White House spokesman said any pull-out will be predicated on three factors: conditions on the ground, the wishes of the government in power, and the pace of efforts to train and equip Iraqi security forces.