George Bush: 'We will stay in Iraq until we have achieved victory'

From an address made at Osan Air Base in South Korea, by the US President
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The Independent Online

Our goal is to defeat the terrorists and allies - and their allies at the heart of their power. And so we will defeat the enemy in Iraq.

As we pursue the terrorists, our military is helping to train Iraqi security forces so they can defend their people, and so they can fight the enemy. And we're making steady progress. With every passing month, more and more Iraqi forces are standing up, and the Iraqi military is gaining new capabilities and new confidence.

Our strategy can be summed up this way: As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down, and when our commanders on the ground tell me that Iraqi forces can defend their freedom, our troops will come home with the honour they have earned.

The second part of our strategy is a political strategy. Iraq is making amazing progress from the days of being under the thumb of a brutal dictator. In two and a half years, they've gone from tyranny to an election for a transitional government, to the ratification of a constitution, to the election of a free government.

If the Middle East is left to grow in bitterness, if countries remain in misery while radicals stir the resentments of millions, then that part of the world will be a source of endless conflict and mounting danger. If the peoples of that region are permitted to choose their own destiny, and advance by their own energy and participation as both free men and women, then the extremists will be marginalised, and the flow of violent radicalism to the rest of the world will slow and eventually end.

Our work for peace and freedom involves great sacrifice by our troops. We see this sacrifice in Iraq, where our troops are hunting down the terrorists, and we're helping the Iraqi people build a working democracy. In Washington, there are some who say the sacrifice is too great, and urge us to set a date for withdrawal before we have completed our mission.

Those who are in the fight know better. We will fight the terrorists in Iraq. We will stay in the fight until we have achieved the brave - the victory that our brave troops have fought for.