Bush details Baghdad security crack down

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George W. Bush on Wednesday gave details of a fresh security crackdown in Baghdad, the day after a surprise visit to Iraq to meet with the newly formed government.

Operation Together Forward, which started following his visit on Tuesday, will see 26,000 Iraqi troops, 23, 000 Iraqi police and 7,200 coalition forces step up surveillance at checkpoints, enforce a night time curfew and attempt to reduce carrying of illegal arms, the President said at a news conference in the White House Rose Garden.

Mr Bush visited Iraq to endorse the new Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his government, and to discuss how to make Iraq more secure against armed insurgents, as well as how to rebuild Iraq?s society and economy.

?He understands how important it is to rein in the militias,? Mr Bush said.

The US president said he hoped that the crackdown on insurgents would help reduce violence, but he warned it was unrealistic to expect ?zero violence? any time soon.

Meanwhile Iraqi officials said that reconciliation efforts were underway alongside the tougher security plan, which could include negotiation with some insurgent groups.

Mr Bush also said at his White House briefing that he had suggested to the Iraqi government that they set up a trust for the Iraqi people for oil revenues, so that every Iraqi citizen could feel it had a share of oil wealth.

Mr Bush visited Baghdad for a five hour whistlestop tour on Tuesday, holding a videolinked joint meeting between the Iraqi cabinet and the US cabinet in Washington, as well as delivering a media address from the US headquarters in one of Saddam?s former palaces.

Although Mr Maliki was said to have known about Mr Bush?s secret flight only five minutes before they met, White House officials said planning for the trip began a month ago.

On plans mooted on Tuesday by Muwaffak al-Rubbaie, Iraq?s national security adviser, for a national reconciliation initiative that could include an amnesty offer to some armed insurgent groups, Mr Bush was ambivalent.

He said it was important to ?reconcile an ugly past with a hopeful future? and to recognise that ?terror and [Ba?ath] party membership is distinguished. However, he said that he did not think that those who had committed criminal acts should be pardoned.

He also said that the US was working with the Iraqi government to improve the judicial system and develop an internal affairs bureau because Iraq ?has to root out corruption at all levels to build confidence.?

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