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Bush applauds political agreement among Iraqi leaders

Bush applauds political agreement among Iraqi leaders

President George W. Bush on Monday applauded what he called a promising sign of political progress by Iraqi leaders who said they had found common ground on some issues standing in the way of reconciliation.
"The agreement begins to establish new power-sharing agreements, commits to supporting bottom-up security and political initiatives, and advances agreement among Iraq's leadership on several key legislative benchmarks," Bush said in a brief statement upon his arrival in Albuquerque.
He said the Iraqi parliament must pass legislation to put these agreements into law when it reconvenes in early September.
Bush referred to the announced outcome of a meeting Sunday that brought Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki together with fellow Shiite Vice President Adil Abdul-Mahdi, Sunni Arab Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, the head of the northern autonomous Kurdish region Massoud Barzani and President Jalal Talabani, who is also a Kurd.
"These leaders ... recognize the true and meaningful reconciliation that needs to take place," Bush said. "They recognize this is a process. Yesterday's agreement reflects their commitment to work together for the benefit of all Iraqis to further the process."
The Iraqi leaders said they agreed on some issues that the U.S. has set as benchmarks for progress, among them holding provincial elections, releasing prisoners held without charge and changing the law preventing many former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party from holding government jobs and elected office.
But no details were released and committees must hash out final versions of legislation to be presented to the Iraqi parliament. Iraqi officials have announced similar deals in the past, only to have them fall apart.
The deal also was not enough to convince the main Sunni Arab political bloc to take back their posts in government which they abandoned this month over differences with al-Maliki.
In a step toward implementing the deal, U.S. and Iraqi officials announced that coalition forces would increase the number of detainees released during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan which begins next month.
"Releases will start as early as this week and continue through the end of Ramadan," the U.S. military command in Baghdad said in a statement. It did not say how many would be freed.
Bush's statement came after a week of tense exchanges between Washington and Baghdad surrounding the struggles of al-Maliki's government, calls by two key senators for al-Maliki to step down and what was widely construed as a less-than-enthusiastic Bush statement in reaction to Maliki's problems.
The Bush White House later put out a statement seeking to play down reports of administration disenchantment with al-Maliki, saying the president continues to support him.


Updated : 2021-05-18 11:19 GMT+08:00