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Bush says Saddam's execution will not end violence in Iraq

Bush says Saddam's execution will not end violence in Iraq

President George W. Bush talked with his top national security adviser about the world's reaction to the hanging of Saddam Hussein _ an execution the president called a milestone on Iraq's road to democracy.
Bush cautioned that Saddam's death will not will not halt the bloodshed and political discord splitting the country. He warned of more challenges ahead for U.S. troops.
"Many difficult choices and further sacrifices lie ahead," he said in a statement released t from his Texas ranch. "Yet the safety and security of the American people require that we not relent in ensuring that Iraq's young democracy continues to progress."
The threat of violence comes at a time when Bush is completing his weeks-long effort to change U.S. policy in Iraq.
The president's statement had a sober, measured tone that contrasted with his offhand remark after U.S. troops found the deposed Iraqi dictator in an underground hideout in 2003.
"Good riddance," Bush said then. "The world is better off without you, Mr. Saddam Hussein."
Bush said Saddam received a fair trial _ "the kind of justice he denied the victims of his brutal regime." He said the trial, which ended with Saddam being sentenced to death, was a testament to the Iraqi people's resolve to move beyond decades of oppression and create a society governed by the rule of law.
"Fair trials were unimaginable under Saddam Hussein's tyrannical rule," Bush said.
Saddam's hanging comes at the end of a difficult year for Iraqis and for U.S. troops, he said. The U.S. death toll is nearing 3,000, and December is going down as one of the deadliest for American troops since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003. Thousands of Iraqis have died as well.
"Bringing Saddam Hussein to justice will not end the violence in Iraq, but it is an important milestone on Iraq's course to becoming a democracy that can govern, sustain, and defend itself, and be an ally in the war on terror," he said.
Bush was asleep when Saddam was executed for the killings of 148 Shiite Muslims from an Iraqi town where assassins tried to kill him in 1982. On Monday, Iraq's highest court rejected Saddam's appeal of the sentence and ordered him put to death.
"The president concluded his day knowing that the final phase of bringing Saddam Hussein to justice was under way," deputy White House press secretary Scott Stanzel said.
National security adviser Stephen Hadley briefed Bush Friday on the procedures for the execution. Hadley had been in touch with U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, who had been in contact with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
"The president was pleased with the culmination of the Iraqi judicial process and that justice was done," White House spokesman David Almacy said, describing Bush's reaction to learning that the execution was close to being carried out.
On Saturday Bush had a 10-minute phone call with Hadley to discuss world reaction to the execution, Almacy said. Bush received his daily intelligence briefing and spent the rest of the day cutting cedar brush on his ranch, taking a bike ride, spending time with his wife, Laura, and pondering his next steps in Iraq.
American sentiment about the war has changed dramatically since the spring of 2003 when jubilant crowds toppled a 40-foot (12 meter) statue of the dictator and a disheveled Saddam, in U.S. custody months later, was seen on television being examined by a doctor who probed his mouth with a tongue depressor.
Then, Saddam's capture boosted Bush's political stature, following months of rising casualties and the manhunt for the former Iraqi dictator, which had damaged U.S. prestige and claims of progress in Iraq.
Now, unrelenting violence and a U.S. death toll nearing 3,000 has sent Bush's approval ratings on the war plummeting to their lowest levels. Seventy-one percent disapprove of his management of the war; almost two-thirds doubt that a stable, democratic government will ever be established in Iraq, according to early December AP-Ipsos polling.
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Associated Press writers Lolita C. Baldor, Barry Schweid and Matt Apuzzo in Washington contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-05-07 16:40 GMT+08:00