By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 12, 2006 – President Bush brought together his interagency team on Iraq today at Camp David to discuss plans to help Iraq's new government succeed now that its Cabinet is fully formed and terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is dead.
Attendees at the session, who included Vice President Richard B. Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, received a three-hour briefing on Iraq this morning from top military and diplomatic officers in Baghdad. After briefings from Army Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command; Gen. George W. Casey Jr., commander of Multinational Force Iraq; and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad, Bush called the assessment "very realistic."
"I think your recommendations to us on how to win in Iraq -- to have an Iraq that can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself-- are ... valid," the president said following the summit's morning session. Bush thanked the leaders serving in Iraq for their contributions to the country's new future. "I just want to thank you all very much for remaining in theater and working as hard as you are," he said. "You're making a significant difference."
The president also extended congratulations to troops in Iraq whose efforts brought al Qaeda's leader in Iraq to justice. Zarqawi died shortly after a June 7 air strike on his safe house north of Baghdad.
"I fully recognize that's not going to end the war," Bush said of the terrorist leader's death. "On the other hand, it was a major blow to al Qaeda and the killers and terrorists that are trying to spread violence and suffering, and stop the emergence of a new democracy." The president is expected to continue discussions on Iraq tomorrow during a videoconference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki