By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service
Sept. 25, 2007 - President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki discussed key Iraqi concerns today in New York City before a host of international leaders gathered there for the United Nations General Assembly. During a photo opportunity at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, Bush told Maliki it was good to meet with him in person instead of via videoconference, to which the leaders are accustomed. Bush said the face-to-face discussions with Maliki and his "distinguished delegation" covered a wide range of issues.
"We talked about a lot of issues and spent time talking about reconciliation and law," Bush said. "And the prime minister and the (speaker of Iraq's National Assembly) are dedicated to getting good law out of the assembly."
Bush said some Iraqi politicians may be trying to block certain laws in order to gain special advantage, and he warned that political parties there "must understand the importance of getting these laws passed."
The president told Maliki that the United States wants Iraq's security forces "well-trained, mobile and capable of handling Iraqi security on their own." The American people understand that a reduction of U.S. troop levels in Iraq will depend upon success, he added.
Iraq occupies a vital area, and success there would spawn success in the region, Bush said. "It'll send a message to other people who believe in peace," Bush said. "It'll make it easier for people to grow up with a hopeful future in the Middle East."
The president said success in Iraq also would further secure America. On the other hand, he predicted, failure in Iraq would invite chaos.
"If we were to leave before the job is done, chaos could ensue; innocent people would lose their life; extremists would be emboldened; nations that are worried about the (United States' commitment) would ... lose their nerve," he said. "The countries of the Middle East would be endangered, and that would cause America to be endangered, as well."
Bush underscored America's commitment to Maliki and said the United States -- like Iraq -- expects reconciliation and law to occur.
Maliki said the task that lies before Iraq is "gigantic." But with international cooperation, the prime minister said, he's confident that Iraq will succeed.
"Iraq's security is very important, and (President Bush and I) have talked about the importance of mutual respect between our two sides and working together for our mutual goals," he said. "We have a great deal of confidence that we will be victorious."