U.S. President George Bush says the United States will stay the course in Iraq, despite a new series of bombings in Baghdad.

The president says terrorists want to stop the progress that is taking place in Iraq and intimidate those who want a better future. He says they cannot stand the thought of a free society.

"The more progress we make on the ground, the more free the Iraqis become, the more electricity that is available, the more jobs that are available, the more kids that are going to school, the more desperate these killers become," he said.

Mr. Bush said the vast majority of Iraqis wants to live in a peaceful, free world, and the United States has an obligation to help achieve that. "It is in the national interest of the United States that a peaceful Iraq emerges," added Mr. Bush, "and we will stay the course in order to achieve this objective."

He spoke after a meeting at the White House with the chief U.S. administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer. During a brief session with reporters, the president appeared to go out of his way to reassure the Iraqi people, saying he is more determined than ever to work with them.

Mr. Bremer carried on that theme, saying there are difficult times, but the move toward a free, democratic Iraq goes on. "We're moving ahead with our plan," said Mr. Bremer. "We have had rough days, such as we have had the last couple of days, but the overall thrust is in the right direction, and the good days outnumber the bad days; and that is the thing we need to keep in perspective."

Paul Bremer and General John Abizaid, the U.S. military commander for Iraq, made plans to come to Washington to brief the president and other top U.S. officials well before the latest surge in violence. They arrived at the White House just hours after a new series of bombings in Baghdad that included a blast outside the local offices of the International Red Cross and several police stations.

Dozens of people were killed in the bombings and hundreds more were wounded. They occurred as Muslims throughout Iraq and the world were marking the start of the holy month of Ramadan.