Accessibility links

Breaking News

Bush, Talabani Reaffirm Need for Iraq to Meet Goals


President Bush met Thursday with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. VOA's Paula Wolfson has the story from the White House.

The meeting ended with both men reaffirming the need for the Iraqi government to meet certain goals, or benchmarks.

President Bush said the United States supports the effort.

"I told the president that I'm fully committed to helping the Iraqi government achieve important objectives, we call them benchmarks," said President Bush.

Those benchmarks include drafting and implementing an oil revenue sharing law, and finding ways to bring the various factions in Iraq together.

President Bush told reporters that he is sending an emissary to Iraq to help turn these goals into reality. She is Meghan O'Sullivan, who recently stepped down as the Iraq coordinator on the president's National Security Council.

"She's going back to serve with Ambassador [Ryan] Crocker, to help the Iraqis - and to help the embassy help the Iraqis meet the benchmarks that the congress and the president [of the United States] expect to get passed," he said.

Just last week, Mr. Bush signed a war funding bill that threatens to withhold U.S. aid for Iraq if these benchmarks are not met.

President Talabani said progress is being made in key areas, but he acknowledged problems remain.

"I don't deny difficulties," said President Talabani. "I don't deny shortcomings. I don't deny that still we are suffering from some problems. But we are determined to [meet] benchmarks and we are determined to move forward and achieve."

The Iraqi president came to Washington from the midwestern state of Minnesota where he has been receiving medical treatment. His last visit to the White House was in September, 2005.