A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Iraq Loves Bush

Fox News: Talabani: Iraqis 'Will Never Forget' Bush---

WASHINGTON — Troop levels were on the mind of to Iraqi and U.S. political leaders Tuesday as by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani paid an official visit to the White House. The newly elected leader said, however, that he does not want the U.S. military to set a timetable to withdrawal its troops.

"We will set no timetable for withdrawal. A timetable will help the terrorists, encourage them that they could defeat the superpower of the world and the Iraqi people," Talabani, the first democratically-elected president of Iraq (search) in a half century, said.

Earlier in the day, however, Talibani raised eyebrows when he told news organizations that he could see as many as 50,000 U.S. troops return from Iraq by the end of this year. The remarks were a stark difference from his comments to President Bush (search) in which he said only that he hoped that by the end of 2006, Iraqi forces would be able to take over from their American counterparts.

In a press conference with Bush after a closed-door meeting in the Oval Office, Talibani also thanked the president for U.S. support.

"We will never forget what you have done for our people," he said.

Bush repeated his stance that American troops will stay in Iraq only as long as they are needed.

"As Iraqis stand up, Americans will stand down and when the mission is completed, Americans will come home," Bush said.

During the press conference, Talibani also touched on efforts to confront Al Qaeda and terrorism in Iraq, describing a series of successes against the terror network.

"We have captured many senior elements of Al Qaeda. We have killed many of them. And we had also many of them in our prisons," he said.

Talabani also praised democracy-building efforts in Iraq, which has elections scheduled in October for approval of a draft constitution. Later in a question-and-answer session, the two leaders discussed concern over Syria's lack of cooperation in preventing the movement of foreign fighters across the border between the nations.

The meeting between Bush and Talabani came as the administration's top envoy in Iraq warned that the United States is running out of patience with Syrian interference across the border.