For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 22, 2003
Remarks by the President and Iraqi Ministers After Meeting
The Oval Office
4:26 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: We're going to have a couple of statements here.
First, it's my honor to welcome two ministers from Iraq -- free Iraq
-- the Minister of Public Works, the Minister of Electricity, people
charged with improving the lives of the Iraqi citizens, people who the
Governing Council has picked to lead these ministries.
And we've had a fascinating discussion. These two good souls have
found that the system wasn't conducive for -- the system they inherited
was not conducive for taking care of the citizens. It was a -- the
infrastructure was old and tired, power was centralized. Really, they
inherited a system of a corrupt tyrant.
And their job now is to improve life. I love their spirit. I love
the fact that they are dedicated to doing their jobs. And I also
appreciate the appraisal of what's going on in Iraq, the assessment
that we're making good progress toward achieving our objective.
So thank you all for coming here to America. We're proud of you
and proud of you being pioneers for a free people. And welcome.
If you'd like to say a few words, Madame Minister, we'd like to
MINISTER BERWARI: Well, on September 3rd the Governing Council
formed an Iraqi government. And this has been the most significant
move after two steps before that; forming the government and Iraqis
taking care of their own affairs has been received very well by the
A sense of progress is being sensed in the streets of Iraq. More
work is being done. And the work on restoring services to pre-war
level has been achieved. Now we're working on planning for the next
year program. We have great plans to improve services. Our mission is
to show a different governance. We want to tell the Iraqis that the
change that has happened four months ago is for their own benefit,
through improving the public service.
But also investing on Iraq that can become an asset to itself and
to the rest of the world, an Iraq that can add values of peace and
prosperity to itself, to the region and to the rest of the world -- a
working Iraq is in the best interests of everybody. And you don't have
to do a lot of investment, because Iraq is rich; rich with people, rich
with oil, rich with water. We only needed help in the beginning, and
we will do it ourself and contribute to the rest of the world.
Our visit this week is to seek support, continuous support from the
U.S. government who liberated us, and we're very thankful for that, and
to pledge and show our commitment to the future partnership and
THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Minister, Minister of Electricity.
MINISTER SAMERAEI: Thank you, Mr. President, for the opportunity.
We are, since of course the war, until now, we are working very hard to
rebuild the electricity, which is destroyed by almost 30 years of
system, that you know how was a system of doing things almost no
technical background for it.
We lost a lot of power, we lost a lot of power plants over the
year. We don't have really, in the time when the war is over, more
than 3,300 megawatt out of actually before the war, almost 4,400. We
are right now reaching that number back again. We have a plan to by
next June to build another 2,000 to 3,000 megawatt. This is all --
will make Iraq again, having a lot of opportunities for war, because
the employment will be high. When you have electricity you have oil to
produce. When you have electricity, you have a treatment for the
All that I like to talk about this more and more, but I like to
tell you about what's happening in Iraq the last five months. The last
five months, Iraqis they have the freedom to talk. We have almost
right now 86 newspaper, while before the war we have only three or four
newspapers, all controlled by the government. All the 86 newspapers
all not controlled by anyone right now except the individuals who own
We have actually the people right now talking freely in the
market. They go and get, for example, dishes. We know that every
single Iraqis right now, we can go and buy anything he wants. This is
the freedom which we missed before, and we got it over the last five
months. If the Iraqi people and the American help us for the next
year-and-a-half, I almost guarantee -- I guarantee it to the President
but I almost guarantee it to the American people that we will have
different Iraq, Iraq who is going to help United States and the free
world and also all the area around us, because we are going to build a
democracy and Iraq will become example for all the Middle East areas
and all the countries around us.
We need the help of the Americans right now to build Iraq so you
have a secure country here and you have a secure world and we have a
secure Iraq. And I appreciate it, and thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all.
END 4:35 P.M. EDT