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Remarks by President Bush After Roundtable Meeting with the Iraq Provincial Reconstruction Team Leaders

Contact: White House, Office of the Press Secretary, 202-456-2580


WASHINGTON, Mar. 22 /Standard Newswire/ -- The following text is of remarks by President Bush after roundtable meeting with the Iraq Provincial Reconstruction Team Leaders:


Room 350

Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building

11:15 A.M. EDT


THE PRESIDENT:  I just had a remarkable visit with some remarkable citizens.  I want to thank them, Secretary Rice and Secretary England and other members of my administration for being here to listen to State Department folks, USAID folks and military folks talk about why they volunteered to go help Iraq succeed.


We have a remarkable country and we have people from different walks of life, different levels of experience make the decision to serve America by helping a young democracy survive.  They understand what I understand, and that is success in Iraq is important for the security of the United States.  And my first mission is to thank them and their families.  The country owes you a debt of gratitude.


And the Congress owes you the money you need to do the job, without any strings attached.  The recent -- in the bill that's now being debated, there is money to help you do your jobs in that bill -- and Congress needs to get that bill out as quickly as possible, without a lot of extra spending and without a lot of strings to it.


There is money in that bill to make sure our military is funded.  And I believe it's important for our commanders on the ground to have the flexibility necessary to make decisions to succeed.  We don't want you to go into Iraq and then have unnecessary strings placed upon the money so you can't do your job.  Congress needs to get their business done quickly, get the monies we've requested funded, and let our folks on the ground do the job.


Secondly, Secretary Rice is headed to the Middle East.  Peace in the Middle East is a priority for this administration.  She's going to continue our efforts to involve all parties -- the Palestinians, the Israelis, Arabs -- to work for a solution that will lead to peace, and that is a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace and security.


I have been on the phone to some of my counterparts in the Middle East, reminding them that I have a strong commitment to this vision, as does the Secretary.  This will be hard work.  It's not easy to get all parties headed in the right direction.  But it's necessary work for this country, and it's necessary for our Secretary of State, with my strong approval, to be moving the process forward.  And that's what she'll be doing.


Madam Secretary, I wish you all the best on your trip, and I thank you very much for your service.


In the meantime, thank you all.  Please give your families all the thanks in the world.  Thank you.


 END11:19 A.M. EDT