President Bush addressed reporters Thursday about Congress’ latest strategy for Iraq and insisted that U.S. forces would leave if the Iraqi government requested they do so. Bush said that Iraq’s fledgling democracy needs to follow “benchmarks” stipulated in the plan and that “arbitrary timetables” for American troops’ withdrawal from Iraq have been nixed.
Press conference transcript from WhiteHouse.gov:
Q Thank you, Mr. President. You say you want nothing short of victory, that leaving Iraq would be catastrophic; you once again mentioned al Qaeda. Does that mean that you are willing to leave American troops there, no matter what the Iraqi government does? I know this is a question we’ve asked before, but you can begin it with a “yes” or “no.”
THE PRESIDENT: We are there at the invitation of the Iraqi government. This is a sovereign nation. Twelve million people went to the polls to approve a constitution. It’s their government’s choice. If they were to say, leave, we would leave.
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