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Kingston Meets with President, Defense Secretary Regarding Iraq

Location: Washington, DC

Relays Progress Seen In Iraq; Notes High Troop Morale, Encourages To Stay The Course

Washington, Dec 8 -

Today, U.S. Representative Jack Kingston (R-GA), the vice chairman of the Republican Conference, met with the President of the United States in the White House and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in his Washington office to discuss the progress he saw on his most recent trip to Iraq and to urge them to stay the course until the mission is accomplished.

"Today I was pleased to meet with the President and the Defense Secretary to discuss the progress I saw in Iraq and to tell them that America needs to stay the course and finish the mission at hand. Fortunately, this Administration is ignoring those critics who want America to cut-and-run and is instead listening to the generals and troops on the ground in Iraq who know the true progress we and the Iraqi people are making," Kingston said.

The U.S. Department of Defense contacted Kingston last week to set-up this meeting with him and the Democratic and Republican Members that went to Iraq November 27-30 to discuss the situation. The meeting included Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Reps. Jack Kingston, Bill Shuster (R-PA) and Denny Rehberg (R-MT), and General Peter Pace, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Unfortunately, the three Democratic Members who went to Iraq chose not to participate in the meeting.

During the meetings, both the President and the Defense Secretary made a few key points:

* That there will continue to be difficulties in Iraq, but that there is real progress being made.
* The Iraqi people now have their own constitution which they wrote and voted for.
* Iraqis are looking forward to being a part of the new government and are actively campaigning to fill the 275-seat Parliament on December 15.
* The pressure that U.S. troops and coalition and Iraqi Security Forces are putting on the terrorists is weakening them.
* The number of tips the Iraqi Security Forces and the Coalition is receiving is increasing significantly, which is a positive indicator that attitudes are changing among the Iraqi people.
* An engaged Iraqi media is emerging. In fact, there are over 100 newspapers, 72 radio stations, and 44 television stations contributing to the mix.
* Saddam Hussein is on trial and his hour of judgment is near.

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