Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Iraq’s ambassador to the United States presented his credentials to President Bush yesterday and said the president was right in saying terrorists cannot stop Iraq from forming a free and democratic country.

Ambassador Samir Sumaidaie told Mr. Bush that Iraqis want to “remove the scourge of terrorism from our land and help others remove it from theirs.”

His appointment from Iraq’s newly formed government represents good news for Mr. Bush, which is why the White House turned what is usually a low-key ceremonial event into a showcase photo opportunity.

“Although there’s been some very difficult times for the Iraqi people, I am impressed by the courage of the leadership, impressed by the determination of the people, and want to assure you, sir, that the United States stands ready to help the Iraqi democracy succeed,” Mr. Bush told Mr. Sumaidaie as he received the ambassador in the Oval Office.

But Mr. Sumaidaie’s personal story could be bad news for the White House. Last year, he accused Marines of killing his 21-year-old cousin, a civilian who was home from school visiting his family in Haditha. Although not directly related, the incident raises the same issues being investigated by Marines and the Defense Department after reports of dozens of Iraqis killed on Nov. 19 in Haditha, a city in western Iraq.

Mr. Bush has taken a “personal interest” after hearing about the Haditha incident, said White House spokesman Tony Snow, but the administration will say little more until the investigations are completed.

“You’re getting little pieces here and little pieces there. We’re going to get a full picture, and then my guess is that I’ll be able to give you a pretty clear readout on where the president thinks we ought to go,” Mr. Snow said.

Reports said Marines fatally shot the civilians after a car bomb struck a military convoy and killed a Marine on Nov. 19.

Mr. Snow said he has been given assurances that when the investigations are complete, “all the details will be made available to the public.”

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