Bush, Italian Prime Minister on U.N. Role in
Post-June 30 Iraq
The White House
May 19, 2004
Remarks by the President in Photo Opportunity with Prime Minister Berlusconi of
The Oval Office
6:18 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you for coming. You just interrupted a conversation
about how we're working on a strategy to help the Iraqis become a free nation.
First I want to thank my friend, Silvio Berlusconi, for being here this evening.
He's a man of good judgment, good advice, and he's a good friend. And after we
have dinner, we're going to go to the Sons of Italy banquet tonight.
I also want to thank the Italian people for the great humanitarian mission that
they're undertaking in Iraq. I appreciate their contribution to a free society
in a part of the world that is desperate for freedom.
The Prime Minister and I have spent time working on a strategy that's based upon
the following points: One, there will be a full transfer of sovereignty to an
interim Iraqi government on June the 30th. That will be accompanied by a United
Nations Security Council resolution. He had some very good ideas about what
should be in that resolution. I, of course, listened to his good ideas.
We also talked about the need to make sure there is a security force to help the
Iraqis move toward elections. It's tough work there now, because killers want to
stop progress. It will be tough work after sovereignty is transferred, because
there will still be people there trying to derail the election process. And
that's why one of the discussion points we had was how to continue to broaden
the coalition. And finally, we talked about how to make sure that Iraq does have
free elections, as Mr. Brahimi has scheduled.
It's an easy conversation to have with Silvio, because we share values. We
believe in human rights, human dignity, rule of law and the right for people to
And so I'm proud my friend is here. I appreciate your leadership.
PRIME MINISTER BERLUSCONI: Thank you.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you for your advice.
PRIME MINISTER BERLUSCONI: (As translated.) As far as I'm concerned, I'm very
happy to be here, and I'm very happy to have had this discussion with my friend,
President Bush, discussion on this plan, which is very detailed, in terms of the
date, and is a very convincing plan.
As the President already said, within two weeks, or even probably before, by the
end of this month, the Envoy of the Secretary General of the United Nations will
indicate the names of the members of the interim government.
And something else that President Bush did not mention right now, but we
discussed, is the possibility, opportunity of convening a meeting in New York,
where your President should be invited and he should meet the members of the
Security Council of the United Nations and the top representatives of the
countries -- members of the coalition. And this in order to provide this
government with an international legitimization which is not only useful for the
international community, but mostly for domestic purposes for this government in
And by the end of the July, there would be the possibility of setting up an
electoral commission which will be formed and made up also of celebrities and
personalities from United Nations which will help preparing the elections to be
held in January.
And we have discussed also other issues and over dinner will have the
possibility of discussing additional initiatives which I think should be taken.
Since I have the possibility and chance of talking to the President of the
Russian Federation, Putin, and to Tony Blair and other leaders, I also submitted
to President Bush the possibility of organizing an international conference on
Iraq, which could be held before the elections in Iraq in January.
And I can say that we agreed on all of these future possibilities. And we fully
share the strategy which needs to be followed. The West must defend itself
against international terror. We are winning this battle if we remain united.
Should we leave, abandon Iraq before a democracy takes hold, should we abandon
it before this takes place, then we would leave this country to chaos and to a
lengthy -- to many, many years of civil war, with thousands and thousands of
casualties and victims, and this country would probably be a authoritarian
country, a fundamentalist country, and certainly an exporter of terror.
I think we've started the work which cannot be left halfway. We have to complete
it, and until we are sure that we can guarantee the unlucky Iraqi people
democracy and freedom, founded in democracy and freedom.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Good job. Thank you, sir.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S.
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