U.S. President George Bush has met with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani
at the White House. VOA's Paula Wolfson reports the outlook for an
agreement on the future nature of the American presence in Iraq was
among the many issues discussed.
The focus was on the positive as the two men met briefly with reporters at the end of their formal talks.
President Bush cited progress in Iraq.
complimented the president on the fact that as security has improved he
and his fellow officials are reaching out to all aspects of society to
help people realize the blessings of a free life," he said.
Bush acknowledged there is still a lot of work to be done. He made
specific mention of ongoing negotiations on a strategic framework
agreement between the United States and Baghdad that will allow U.S.
forces to remain in Iraq after the end of the year, when their United
Nations mandate expires.
He said the agreement must "suit" the Iraqi government.
President Talabani said he hopes a deal can be reached soon.
are doing our best for this strategic agreement with the United States
of America. I think we have very good important steps towards reaching
and finalizing this agreement," he said.
president said the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is also
focusing on getting important laws dealing with oil and elections
through the legislature. He stressed fostering national unity remains
"I can say we are
proud to achieve good successes in Iraq. Our economy is growing and we
have also big steps forward for national reconciliation," he added.
Talabani also mentioned Iraq's efforts to improve relations with all
its neighbors, including Iran and Syria. The Bush administration has
cautioned that Tehran and Damascus foster terrorism in the region, but
has said repeatedly it will not stand in the way of regional diplomacy
The meeting with Jalal Talabani was a late addition
to President Bush's schedule, and was only announced on the eve of the
session at the White House. President Talabani has reportedly been in
the United States undergoing medical treatment.