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US Forces Will Do What is Necessary to Secure Fallujah, says Bush - 2004-04-28

President Bush says U.S. forces in Iraq will do what is necessary to secure the besieged city of Fallujah. The president says the coalition will deal with those who "want to stop the march of freedom in Iraq."

"And that is exactly what is happening in Fallujah," said Mr. Bush. "Our commanders on the ground have got the authority necessary to take action to help the Iraqi people realize a free and peaceful society."

Mr. Bush says the insurgents know the coalition is transferring sovereignty back to the Iraqis on June 30 and are getting more and more desperate as the date draws closer.

"They want to kill innocent life to try to get us to quit and we are not going to," he said.

He spoke after talks at the White House with Goeran Persson, prime minister of Sweden . The Swedes opposed the invasion of Iraq but are now supplying humanitarian aid.

When asked by reporters if the violence in Fallujah might set back the transfer of sovereignty, the president was adamant. He said he had assured the prime minister that the hand-over will take place as planned, and added it will be successful.

Mr. Bush noted that earlier in the day he had talked with General John Abizaid, who commands U.S. forces in Iraq. He indicated the report he received from the general contained a few reasons for hope.

"He was reporting that there will be joint patrols with Iraqi police in Fallujah," said Mr. Bush. "Most of Fallujah is returning to normal. There are pockets of resistance and our military along with the Iraqis will make sure it is secure."

The president has been getting regular updates from his commanders in the field on Iraq, although a face-to-face meeting is relatively rare. Most of their discussions take place by videoconference.