By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
June 14, 2007 – The fight for security in Baghdad is likely to "get harder over the coming months as we engage an increasingly desperate enemy," the deputy secretary of state said in Baghdad today. John D. Negroponte, who served as U.S. ambassador to Iraq from 2004 until assuming his current post in February, spoke with reporters after two days of meetings in Iraq with senior U.S. and Iraqi leaders.
All recognize that as the Baghdad security plan reaches full stride with the last of the surge troops arriving this month, difficult days are likely to remain ahead, he said.
Negroponte reiterated U.S. condemnation of yesterday's "vicious" attack on the Golden Mosque in Samarra and said Americans share the Iraqi's outrage.
"This brutal action on one of Iraq's holiest shrines is a deliberate attempt by al Qaeda to sow dissent and inflame sectarian strife among the people of Iraq," Negroponte said. "It is further evidence of the enemy's indiscriminate violence and efforts to obstruct the peaceful political and economic development of a democratic Iraq."
Negroponte joined other U.S. and Iraqi leaders in urging Iraqis "to reject this call to violence." "Those who perpetrated this violence cannot be allowed to succeed with their sinister aims," he said.
Negroponte said reiterated to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki the need to move faster to build the framework of a stable, secure democracy. He said he "stressed the urgency of making political progress that will reinforce efforts by coalition and Iraqi security forces to restore stability."
"In all my meetings, I stressed the importance of achieving the concrete results that will encourage Iraq's citizens and its neighbors that the political leadership of Iraq is willing to make difficult compromises needed to advance the reconciliation process," he said.
Negroponte emphasized that it's ultimately up to the Iraqi people to overcome forces working to derail progress there. "Success in Iraq will depend on the commitment and actions of Iraq's leaders," he said, noting that all remain committed to success.
"I believe (they) are prepared to work even harder to achieve it," Negroponte said.