Bush, al-Maliki seek to regain control of Iraq | india | Hindustan Times
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Bush, al-Maliki seek to regain control of Iraq

india Updated: Jul 26, 2006 15:10 IST
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US President George W Bush pledged to take steps along with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to improve security in Baghdad, which has witnessed an increase in attacks in recent weeks.

"The violence in Baghdad is still terrible and therefore there needs to be more troops," Bush said at a White House press conference with al-Maliki.

Bush said more US troops would be sent into the Iraqi capital to assist Iraqi security forces in the crackdown on those responsible for terrorist attacks.

Bush said the two leaders spent a good part of their meeting discussing security issues in Iraq, but also talked about plans to gain more international support for the rebuilding effort in Iraq.

"Coalition and Iraqi forces will secure individual neighbourhoods, will ensure the existence of an Iraqi security presence and gradually expand the security presence as Iraqi citizens help them root out those who instigate violence," Bush said.

Al-Maliki said his security plan for Baghdad was making progress in "hunting the terrorist network and eliminating it".

The surge of violence in Baghdad has shown the resilience of militants to continue to carry out terrorist attacks despite the May death of the top Al-Qaeda figure in Iraq, Musub al-Zarqawi.

The events in Iraq have been largely overshadowed by the crisis in Lebanon. Al-Maliki called on the international community to take steps to end the violence in Lebanon sparked by Hezbollah's abduction of two Israeli soldiers July 12 that prompted a massive Israeli military assault.

Al-Maliki said through a translator that during his meeting with Bush he "emphasised the importance of immediate ceasefire and call on the international community to support the Lebanese government and support the Lebanese people to overcome the damage and destruction that happened".

Al-Maliki had previously criticised Israel for the deaths of Lebanese civilians, while Bush has been supportive of Israel's right to defend itself against Hezbollah.

Bush has also opposed an immediate ceasefire, saying that the same conditions that existed before the crisis erupted should not be preserved in a resolution.

Bush and al-Maliki also discussed the reconstruction effort in Iraq and the Iraqi leader's plans to move forward with a reconciliation commission to address the difficult history between Shias and Sunnis.