By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service
Sept. 24, 2008 - President Bush yesterday applauded the leadership of Iraq as he met with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and other leaders of the Iraqi coalition at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Bush attributed successes in democratizing the country to the sacrifices of both the Iraqi people and those countries that have contributed to the multinational efforts there.
"A lot of people around the world have made sacrifices along with the Iraqi people to enable a country to emerge from the shadows of tyranny to become a hopeful example for nations around the world," Bush said
The president especially credited Talabani, calling his leadership "steadfast."
"Many of the troops of the countries represented here have returned home, but they have done so on success," Bush said. "And I want to applaud your steadfast leadership and thank the people of your respective countries for making the sacrifices so that others can live in a free society."
But, while the president cited substantial changes made in the country, he said there was still more work to do there.
"There's no doubt that mothers are able to send their child to school without fear of carnage," Bush said. "There are still killers ... in your midst, but your government has been steadfast in bringing people to justice who are trying to undermine your democracy."
Talabani thanked Bush and the other leaders of those countries contributing to the multinational force, and offered condolences to those who have died for Iraq's hard-fought freedoms.
"Of course, noble and responsible nations must bear their sacrifice in order to free the oppressed and bring citizens from the worst kind of dictatorship," Talabani said. "Nevertheless, on behalf of the people of Iraq, I want to express my deepest condolences for your brave soldiers and civilians who have lost their lives while standing up for our shared values of freedom and democracy."
Bush's remarks marked his eighth and final speech to the assembly as he nears the end of his presidency. The president highlighted U.S. partnerships with other nations and urged the U.N. to continue confronting terror organizations.
Bush announced this month that the United States would continue to reduce its troop strength in Iraq, based on security progress made as part of the new strategy and troop surge there.