WASHINGTON – President George W. Bush made a surprise visit to Baghdad to meet him last month. Now he plans to welcome Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to the White House for the first time.
Al-Maliki will visit July 25, the White House announced Thursday as Bush visited Germany.
Bush has praised the new prime minister for his commitment to advancing democracy and reform. Al-Maliki has promised to crack down on militias and sectarian violence, promote national reconciliation, accelerate reconstruction efforts and restore essential services such as electricity.
Tensions have arisen over allegations that U.S. soldiers raped and murdered an Iraqi teenager and killed her family. Al-Maliki has demanded an independent investigation into the case and a review of the agreement granting U.S. forces immunity from prosecution by Iraqi courts. Bush has vowed that if the charges are proved, those responsible will be punished.
Bush and al-Maliki first met on June 13, when the president showed up in Iraq unexpectedly. Al-Maliki had only five minutes notice that the president would talk to him in person, rather than on a videoconference as he expected. He told the prime minister that the United States is committed to helping the new democracy succeed.