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Bush Wishes Saddam Execution Was More Dignified

U.S. President George Bush says he wishes Saddam Hussein's execution had been more dignified. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, Mr. Bush discussed the controversy surrounding that hanging with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

In nearly two hours of talks on a secure video link, President Bush and Prime Minister Maliki discussed the execution, where some of those in attendance mocked Saddam on the gallows and filmed his death with a cell-phone camera.

Iraqi officials say they are questioning at least two guards suspected of involvement.

Mr. Bush says he wishes the proceedings had been more dignified, but he says Saddam did received a fair trial, something the president says the former Iraqi leader denied his opponents.

"We expect there to be a full investigation of what took place," said President Bush. "The Iraqi people want to move forward. They want to forget that terrible part of their past, and they want to live in peace, and it is in our nation's interest to help them do so."

The president and prime minister discussed a package of economic, military, and political changes for Iraq that Mr. Bush will announce in a nationwide address next week.

The president told White House reporters that during the call, he wanted to find out whether the Iraqi leader has what Mr. Bush called the will to do the hard work to protect his people.

"And I told him, I said that if you show the will, we will help you," he said. "And I am in the process of making up my final decision about what recommendations to accept. One thing for certain is that I will want to make sure that the mission is clear and specific and can be accomplished."

The president says his new thinking on Iraq is taking shape as he nears completion of a review of Iraq strategy that follows his political party's losses in November legislative elections.

Much of that vote was based on opposition to a war that public opinion polls say a majority of Americans now believe was a mistake.

President Bush says the goal remains victory in Iraq, and he and Prime Minister Maliki both define that victory in the same terms: the establishment of a government in Baghdad that can sustain itself, govern itself, and defend itself.

Mr. Bush made his comments on Iraq following White House talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. While Germany is not involved in Iraq militarily, the chancellor, speaking through a translator, said she does support efforts to strengthen the Maliki government.

"We have every interest in seeing Iraq taking a turn for a more peaceful development where people no longer need to be in fear of their lives and politically we shall do everything we can in order to give support to such a positive development," said Angela Merkel.

With President Bush drawing closer to announcing what he says will be a new way forward in Iraq, he will meet Friday with Republican and Democratic leaders in the Senate to discuss those plans.