SEATTLE – U.S. allies will likely send more troops to help secure war-torn Iraq, ravaged lately by "Al Qaeda-type fighters" who want to commit terrorist acts, President Bush said Friday.
"Iraq is turning out to be a continuing battle in the war on terrorism," the president said after meeting with economic leaders in Washington state. "We're going to stay the course."
Violence in Iraq has continued despite Bush's declaration almost four months ago that major combat operations have ended. Bush attributed the fighting to former members of Saddam Hussein's (search) regime and "Al Qaeda-type fighters" looking for opportunity.
"I also believe there's a foreign element that is moving into Iraq. And these would be Al Qaeda-type fighters. They want to fight us there because they can't stand the thought of a free society in the Middle East. They hate freedom. They hate the thought of a democracy emerging," Bush said.
Officials have charged that terrorists are entering the country from neighboring Syria and Iran. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told Arabic TV on Friday that some fighters are coming from Saudi Arabia as well.
Bush declined to describe recent violence in Iraq as a guerrilla war, and said, "It's hard to characterize what kind of movement it is since this is one of the major battles of the first war of the 21st century."
But of late, insurgents have taken to blowing up critical infrastructure, including an oil pipeline that earns Iraq $7 million per day.
"If you notice, what's happening, of course, is as the life of the average Iraqi begins to improve, those who hate freedom destroy the infrastructures that we've been improving. That's part of their strategy," he said.
The U.S. is now training 17,000 Iraqis to guard such installations, and another 2,300 are getting basic training in marksmanship and bomb identification to help provide civil defense forces such as security guards and police officers. About 50,000 Iraqis are helping patrol Iraq's cities and towns.
Bush made clear that having additional international forces to help out would give American troops leeway to pursue terrorists.
"That'll help free up our hunter teams," he said.
Bush said his administration is working with the United Nations (search) to encourage allies to help bring peace to the country and predicted they would be coming shortly. A homicide bomber struck the United Nations compound in Baghdad on Tuesday, killing at least 23 people.
"We do need and welcome more foreign troops into Iraq. There will be more foreign troops in Iraq," he said, adding that the U.N. would play a vital role in securing the country.
Turkey's top military and political leaders met Friday to consider sending thousands of troops to Iraq, which would make it the third-largest contingency after the United States and Great Britain.
The United States is seeking a U.N. Security Council resolution encouraging member nations to help out in Iraq. But U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who met Friday with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, indicated that the U.S.-led coalition may have a hard time getting other nations to contribute forces unless it is willing to give up a little authority.
"It would also imply not just burden-sharing, but also sharing decisions and responsibility with the others. If that doesn't happen, I think it's going to be very difficult to get a second resolution that will satisfy everybody," Annan said, suggesting that perhaps an internationalized police force to guard critical infrastructure would be more palatable to Security Council members.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who met with Annan on Thursday, said Washington wouldn't surrender any control in Iraq, but Bush did not address whether he would be willing to cede authority, only that the United Nations is already helping out in Iraq.
"I've always said the United Nations ought to have a vital role, and they were playing a vital role in Iraq, such a vital role that the killers decided to destroy the very people that were providing food for the hungry and medicine for the afflicted," he said.
As for terrorism in other parts of the Middle East, Bush said homicide bombers in Israel will not deter the peace process. On the same day that the U.N. compound was hit, a homicide bomber detonated himself aboard a Jerusalem bus, killing 20 people, including six children and five Americans. The Palestinian terrorist group Hamas (search) claimed responsibility for the bombing.
"What the United States will continue to do is to remind those who love peace, and you're for freedom in that part of the world, to join together to battle those few who want to destroy the ambitions of many," he said.
Earlier in the day, the Treasury Department froze the assets of six senior Hamas leaders and five-European based organizations said to be raising money for the terror group.
President Bush said he was seizing assets belonging to those groups in response to the Hamas' attack Tuesday.
"Hamas has reaffirmed that it is a terrorist organization committed to violence against Israelis and to undermining progress toward peace between Israel and the Palestinian people," Bush said in a statement.
Fox News' Jim Angle and The Associated Press contributed to this report.