(Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State) - President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced plans to enhance security forces in Baghdad in an effort to stem the growing violence in the Iraqi capital.
Our strategy is to remain on the offense, Bush said during a White House press conference after his July 25 meeting with the Iraqi prime minister. Under the prime minister's leadership, coalition and Iraqi leaders are modifying their operational concept to bring greater security to the Iraqi capital.
Al-Malikis plan calls for a redeployment of coalition forces from other locations in Iraq to Baghdad where they will join an enhanced Iraqi police contingent to patrol neighborhoods and ensure an effective Iraqi security presence, reports Trend.
This plan will involve embedding more U.S. military police with Iraqi police units to make them more effective, Bush said. He said that this deployment would better reflect the current conditions on the ground in Iraq.
The new security plan also calls for coalition forces to provide greater firepower and protection equipment to the Iraqi forces.
We have agreed that building the security and military institutions in Iraq in terms of numbers, equipment, firearms and as quickly as possible represents the fundamental base in order to stabilize the country and to have security and defeat terrorism, al-Maliki said.
The new plan comes just six weeks after the Iraqi prime minister launched Operation Together Forward, which sought to pacify the capital by increasing the number of checkpoints and security patrols and by imposing nighttime curfews. To date, however, those measures have failed to rein in the violence.
Bush explained that the new plan shows flexibility on the part of the Iraqi government and coalition forces in confronting a fluid situation on the ground.
Conditions change inside a country вЂ¦ and the question is, are we going to be facile enough to change with them -- will we be nimble enough? вЂ¦ And the answer is yes, we will, he said.
Bush said the increased number of forces in the capital would make it possible to hold kidnappers and murderers to account. According to press reports, Baghdad has seen a sharp rise in abductions and murders in recent months.
Al-Maliki said that curbing religious violence is the most important element of his security plan. He said Iraqi religious and political leaders have joined him in condemning those who are trying to foment a civil war.
The government responsibility is to protect all Iraqis regardless of their ethnic or religious background, he said.
The prime minister also briefed the president on his national reconciliation plan aimed at drawing opposition forces into the political process.
Bush said there has been important progress elsewhere in Iraq that has been overshadowed by the violence in Baghdad. He pointed to the recent handover of Muthanna province to Iraqi civilian control as an example of that progress.
Bush said he and the prime minister had agreed to establish a joint committee to oversee the transfer of security responsibilities to the Iraqi government in other provinces as well.
Al-Maliki said that his government would develop an international compact for economic reform during the coming months and hold a conference to seek support from the international community in Iraqs reform efforts. Bush said the United States would support the compact and encourage other countries to do likewise.
The two leaders also exchanged views on the current crisis in Lebanon during their meeting. The Iraqi prime minister called for an immediate cease-fire and international support for the Lebanese government in rebuilding the country.
Bush said, America is concerned about the women and children who suffer in that country, concerned about the loss of innocent life. He added that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is currently in the region working to establish corridors to ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid and essential relief supplies to the victims of the hostilities.
Al-Malikis visit to Washington is the first meeting between the two leaders since President Bushs June 13 visit to Baghdad. That visit came shortly after the prime minister had completed the formation of his cabinet. At the time, Bush expressed confidence in al-Malikis commitment to addressing Iraqs security challenges.