WASHINGTON – President Bush engaged in another round of telephone diplomacy Wednesday, calling allies to drum up support for the new government being created in Iraq following last weekend's elections.
Bush called Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin and El Salvador President Tony Saca, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.
The president is calling allies to build on the momentum of the Iraqi election and boost foreign aid to the new Iraqi government, as well as lay ground work for his trip to Europe later this month. He will use part of his State of the Union (search) address to urge other nations to support Iraqis in any way they can.
In all three calls Wednesday, Bush stressed that the election in Iraqi had been a success, McClellan said.
"The president expressed his appreciation for the strong statements by Prime Minister Berlusconi in support of the democratic process now advancing in Iraq," McClellan said. "The two leaders agreed that the election had been a victory for the Iraqi people and agreed that democracy in the region had taken significant steps forward with the Afghanistan, Palestinian, and now Iraqi elections."
On Tuesday, Bush talked with Russian President Vladimir Putin, NATO (search) Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Mexican President Vicente Fox.
In London on Tuesday, Italy's Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini said Bush's upcoming trip to Europe was an opportunity to strengthen transatlantic ties. Bush's trip, and an upcoming one by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, are designed to heal relations between America and some European countries that were ruptured by the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
Italy is a close ally of Washington and has about 3,000 troops stationed in Iraq, the coalition's third largest contingent after those of the United States and Britain.
In his other calls, Bush thanked Canada for the international observation role it played in the Iraqi election, and thanked El Salvador for its support of democracy in Iraq.
"He praised El Salvador's troops in Iraq calling them 'great soldiers who have earned the respect of all who deal with them,'" McClellan said. "Both leaders agreed that the coalition still has important work to do in Iraq and the United States and El Salvador would continue to work together to support the Iraqi people."