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5 June 2004 -- U.S. President George W. Bush says he is confident the United Nations Security Council will soon approve a resolution on the transfer of power to Iraq.
Bush made the comments after meeting Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Rome today. He said he senses a new unity among his partners on the subject of Iraq, following deep divisions over the U.S.-led war.
"I sense a spirit of unity in terms of working with the new Iraqi government," Bush said. "That's why we're working closely with nations to get a United Nations security council resolution that confirms that which I just said, and I am confident we will get one soon."
The United States and Britain have revised for the third time their draft UN resolution, after other security council members expressed reservations about two earlier versions.
Reports say the new version says the interim Iraqi administration due to take power on 30 June will have the authority to send home U.S.-led troops.
Bush today said U.S.-led troops will only remain in Iraq at the request of the new government: "Our troops must be there at the request of a sovereign government. When you transfer full sovereignty, the government must say, 'We welcome your help.' And that's precisely what's happening."
Bush is mid-way through a European trip to commemorate the sacrifices and triumphs of World War II. But Iraq has dominated the trip so far.
Yesterday during a meeting with Bush, Pope John Paul called for the swift return of sovereignty to Iraq.
The pope also said he was deeply troubled by recent "deplorable events" -- a veiled reference to the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by some U.S. soldiers.
Today Bush said he shares that outrage: "Like his Holiness I was repulsed by the pictures I saw of the treatment by some of our troops toward Iraqi prisoners. That treatment does not reflect the spirit of America. Those people stained our honor."
The U.S. president also brushed off large demonstrations in Rome against his visit: "Democracy is a beautiful thing. I am pleased to be in a country where people are allowed to express their opinion. I believe the world understands the importance of a free Iraq emerging in the Middle East."
The press conference was the last stop on Bush's trip to Italy before going to France for the D-Day anniversary ceremonies.
(international news agencies)