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Bush calls Maliki 'right guy' for Iraq

The US president also agreed with the Iraqi premier that partitioning the country would only increase violence.

india Updated: Nov 30, 2006 18:21 IST

President Bush praised Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki as the "right guy" for Iraq on Thursday and said he agreed with the Iraqi leader that partitioning the country would only increase violence.

Bush declared support for Maliki after the United States officials insisted the Iraqi leader was not offended by a critical White House memo and had not snubbed Bush in Amman on Wednesday when the two had been expected to hold an initial meeting.

"He's the right guy for Iraq and we're going to help him and it's in our interest to help him," Bush told a joint news conference with Maliki in the Jordanian capital.

"It's in our interests to help liberty prevail in the Middle East, starting with Iraq. And that's why this business about graceful exit simply has no realism to it at all."

Bush said he and Maliki had ruled out any idea of dividing Iraq as a way to halt rampant sectarian violence.

"The prime minister made clear that splitting his country into parts, as some have suggested, is not what the Iraqi people want and that any partition of Iraq would only lead to an increase in sectarian violence. I agree," he said.

Bush said they had also agreed to speed up the training of Iraqi security forces and handing over security authority to Iraqis.

US troops were in Iraq to "get the job done" and would stay as long as the Baghdad government wanted them there.

"It's not easy for a military to evolve from ground zero," he said of Maliki's efforts to build Iraqi forces, acknowledging that the Iraqi leader was "frustrated by the pace".

First Published: Nov 30, 2006 18:21 IST