US focuses on training Iraqi forces
1 February 2005, WASHINGTON - US President George W. Bush has spoken with several key allies, including German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, following the weekend election in Iraq.
1 February 2005
WASHINGTON - US President George W. Bush has spoken with several key allies, including German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, following the weekend election in Iraq.
The United States was now focusing on the importance of training Iraqi security forces after the election for the country's transitional national assembly, officials said.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said establishing such forces are essential for the Iraqi government's capability to secure the country and for the withdrawal of American troops.
"There is still much work to do to train and equip those security forces going forward," McClellan said.
The United States and other countries were optimistic over the high turnout of Iraqi voters on Sunday, largely proclaiming the election to be a success with Bush also having conversations with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, French President Jacques Chirac.
He also spoke to Jordanian King Abdullah, Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah and Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak on Sunday.
"The election is a victory for the Iraqi people," McClellan said. "It's a significant step forward for freedom, and it is a defeat for the terrorists and their ideology."
The election comes as U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice plans a trip to Europe this week, hoping the elections will encourage European countries to provide additional assistance to the democratic and reconstruction process in Iraq.
"We'll talk to them all about what they might feel comfortable doing, and we hope that the demonstration of the Iraqi people's desire for democracy - despite the adversity and difficulty of that - would inspire some of them to support that desire," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.
Boucher, however, played down the prospect for any major policy shift within Europe.
"I don't think any of us expect to see a radical shift in the kind of activity that various European governments are involved in, but many of them have been very supportive of this process," he said.
Rice will visit Germany and France on her trip that begins on Thursday. The two countries, along with Russia, led international opposition to the Iraq war and have been reluctant to support the American effort there. Germany has been participating by training Iraqi police forces in Jordan.
Meanwhile, US President George W. Bush spoke with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on Monday to thank the United Nations for making an "important contribution" to Iraq's elections, McClellan said.
Annan told Bush that the United Nations was ready to continue helping Iraq build democratic institutions, including the drafting of a constitution, he said.
"The president and the secretary general agreed on the significance of yesterday's successful elections for the transition to democracy," McClellan said.
Bush and Annan have not always seen eye to eye on Iraq. Annan most notably said the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 violated the UN Charter.
Bush on Sunday touted Iraq's election as a "resounding success", citing the high turnout by Iraqi voters to elect a transitional national assembly, which will draft the constitution.
[Copyright DPA with Expatica 2005]
Subject: German news