President Bush says the United States will not be deterred by the latest wave of violence in Iraq. Mr. Bush says there will be no going back on his June 30 deadline for turning over power to a sovereign Iraqi administration.
"The message to the Iraqi citizens is they do not have to fear that America will turn and run and that is an important message for them to hear," he said. "If they think that we are not sincere about staying the course, many people will not continue to take the risks toward freedom and democracy."
The president says U.S. forces in Iraq still face challenges from, what he calls, terrorists and thugs. Eight U.S. soldiers and at least 52 Iraqis were killed in violence Sunday, during protests by supporters of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
Mr. Bush criticized the 30-year-old cleric as a man who opposes democracy and is trying to decide Iraq's future by force. U.S. authorities have announced that a warrant has been issued for the cleric's arrest.
One of the cleric's supporters read a response saying he is proud to be an outlaw because it means he is breaking the law of what he called the American tyranny in Iraq.