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Bush, Iraqi PM Reaffirm Partnership

  • VOA News

US President George Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki have reaffirmed their partnership -- after a week of public tension between them.

In a joint statement Saturday, the two men said they will work in every way possible for a stable, democratic Iraq, and for victory in the war on terrorism. They also agreed to speed-up training of Iraqi forces to accelerate the transfer of security to Iraq.

The statement followed a 50-minute video conference between the two leaders.

A White House spokesman Tony Snow said there are no strains in President Bush's relationship with Mr. Maliki.

The Iraqi leader insisted this week that no outside power could decide his government's agenda as the White House appeared to press him to accept a timetable for political reforms aimed at ending sectarian violence.

President Bush, under election year pressure for progress in Iraq, said Mr. Maliki is a sovereign leader, whom the U.S. is assisting.

In other news, the U.S. military announced the death of a US Marine -- bringing this month's American troop death toll to 98. That makes October one of the deadliest months in Iraq for the US military since the March 2003 invasion.

The US military also says Iraqi and coalition soldiers detained nine suspected terrorists and seized weapons in a raid in Baghdad. A separate statement says a Polish helicopter made an emergency landing (near As Suwayrah) south of Baghdad and took small arms fire. The military says one coalition soldier and one Iraqi soldier were wounded.

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