- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 13, 2003


Underscoring his belief and hope that Iraq will be a stable democracy one day, President Bush told Americans yesterday that his administration has a clear strategy and is moving forward on its work to complete the transformation of Iraq.

“We are following a clear strategy with three objectives: destroy the terrorists, enlist international support for a free Iraq and quickly transfer authority to the Iraqi people,” Mr. Bush said in his weekly radio address.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell worked yesterday in Geneva to narrow differences over Iraq with the other four permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — Britain, China, France and Russia. Mr. Powell is making his first trip to Iraq to assess rebuilding work, and work will continue in New York among the permanent members on a U.S.-sponsored resolution on Iraq’s future to be presented to the Security Council.

Both Mr. Powell and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, as well as National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, were to appear on television talk shows today to bolster the president’s message that progress is being made in the war-shattered country.

In his radio address, Mr. Bush said U.S.-led coalition forces continue to thwart loyalists of Saddam Hussein and foreign terrorists.

“Through a series of ongoing operations, our military is taking direct action against Saddam loyalists and foreign terrorists,” Mr. Bush said. “One major effort under way right now, called Operation Longstreet, is seeking and finding our enemies wherever they hide and plot. Already, this operation has yielded hundreds of detainees and seized hundreds of weapons, and we will remain on the offensive against the terrorists.”

He also said the United States is working to turn the government over to Iraqis.

“We’re moving forward on a specific plan to return sovereignty and authority to the Iraqi people,” he said. “We have created a governing council made up of Iraqi citizens. The council has selected a committee that is developing a process through which Iraqis will draft a new constitution for their country.”

Mr. Bush, who is spending part of his weekend at Camp David, had an intelligence briefing yesterday morning, with Vice President Dick Cheney and Miss Rice participating by video conferencing. The president was entertaining guests at the presidential retreat, a White House spokesman said, and watched the football game between Texas and Arkansas on television.

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