Friday, February 24, 2006

Avoid The Civil War

Today President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged the Iraqi people to be calm and cooperative, and continue their efforts to form a unified government.

Bush praised Iraq's political and religious leaders who have taken steps to halt the unrest, and told the Iraqi people that they are at a "moment of choosing":

"We can expect the coming days will be intense. Iraq remains a serious situation," Bush said in a speech to The American Legion. "But I'm optimistic, because the Iraqi people have spoken, and the Iraqi people made their intentions clear. ... They want their country to be a democracy."

Bush spoke of "stunning acts of violence" and counseled that "difficult and exhausting" days ahead would require patience as both bloodshed and political conflict continue. Rice called this "an extremely hard and extremely delicate moment," acknowledged the violence was "a strike against Iraqi unity" and said "people's nerves are a bit on edge."

"There will be undoubtedly some period of time in which it is hard to have a completely unified response to what has happened, because it is very terrible," said Rice, traveling back to Washington from a tour of Arab capitals.

In Washington, Bush said, "We'll do everything in our power to help the Iraqi government identify and bring to justice those responsible for the terrorist acts."

"This is a moment of choosing for the Iraqi people," he said.