Fight for Basra a defining moment for Iraq: Bush

March 29th, 2008 - 1:15 am ICT by admin  

Washington, March 28 (DPA) The Iraqi offensive against Shia militias in the southern city of Basra is a “defining moment” in the country’s future, US President George W. Bush said Friday. “Any government that presumes to represent a majority of people must confront criminal elements or people who think they can live outside the law,” Bush said after meeting with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

“This is a defining moment in the history of a free Iraq,” he said. “There have been other defining moments up to now, but this is a defining moment, as well.”

Bush expressed no concern over Rudd’s plan to follow through on a campaign pledge and withdraw Australia’s 550 troops from Iraq this summer, noting the US has also withdrawn troops on a “return on success” basis.

Rudd ousted a close ally of Bush, John Howard, in November elections. Rudd, however, assured Bush that Australia remains committed to the fight in Afghanistan and will keep troops in a combat role.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki launched the assault on Basra, a key port city on the Gulf, to root out militias affiliated with radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr who had effectively controlled the city.

Bush and Rudd also discussed the need to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, the six-nation nuclear talks with North Korea and the effort to combat climate change.

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