Bush pledges support for Iraq's new government
US President George W Bush said that the installation of Iraq's national unity government opens a new chapter in the nation's history, and he pledged continued US support for the fledging democracy.
"Iraq's new leaders know the period ahead will be filled with great challenge," Bush said On Saturday in a statement. "But they also know that they and their great country will not face them alone.
"The United States and freedom-loving nations around the world will stand with Iraq as it takes its place among the world's democracies and as an ally in the war on terror."
US political leaders hoped the new Iraqi government would help clear the way for the withdrawal of American troops.
"It is our wish that, as the government strengthens in its governing, Iraqis can protect themselves and American troops can come home," Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert said in a statement.
In Baghdad, US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said the new government moves Iraq closer to providing for its own defence, but he avoided any specific date for a major withdrawal of American forces.
"Although there may be tactical increases here and there, strategically we're going to be moving in the direction of downsizing our forces," Khalilzad told reporters after the ceremony. He cautioned that changes in force levels are "always dependent on the conditions."
US military commanders plan to send several hundred additional American troops from Kuwait to Iraq to bolster security for the new government.