WASHINGTON – President Bush strongly condemned Thursday's attack on Iraq's parliament building within the heavily protected Green Zone. "My message to the Iraqi government is `We stand with you,"' the president said.
Bush, who planned to meet Thursday with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., both recently returned from Iraq, was being kept abreast of the bomb blast. At least two lawmakers were killed and dozens of other people wounded in the attack in the Iraqi parliament's cafeteria, situated in the heart of the U.S.-protected zone.
"I strongly condemn the action," Bush said in the Roosevelt Room after meeting with educational leaders. "It reminds us that there is an enemy willing to bomb innocent people and a symbol of democracy."
The president said that the Iraqi assembly represents the millions of Iraqis who voted in recent elections. He said the type of person who would do such a thing is "the same type of person who is willing to come to kill innocent Americans."
At the State Department, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the administration knows there is a security problem in Baghdad.
"This is still early in the process and I don't think anyone expected that there wouldn't be counter-efforts by terrorists to undermine the security presence," she said.
Rice said the attack showed terrorists were determined to destroy the Iraqi people's dreams of democracy but did not mean that Bush's troop increase in Iraq had failed.
Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said the attack shows that "the terrorists and extremists will go to great lengths to undermine the Iraqi government, a government that is working to bring peace and stability for the people of Iraq, as opposed to the death and destruction that the terrorists offer. The United States and Iraq cannot and will not let them succeed."
White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said the multinational forces in Iraq will be taking steps to strengthen security and make sure that such an attack doesn't happen again.
McCain, who met with Rice, said the bombing could not take away from the initial, small successes from the surge. McCain, a presidential candidate, has been a vocal supporter of the war effort.
"It makes all of us sad for these public servants who have been injured or killed but I don't think you can change the larger picture (that) we are achieving some small successes," he said.