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30 April 2003

Bush To Announce End Of Combat Phase of Iraq War

(White House Report, April 30: Iraq/WMD, Colombia, Norway) (580)

President Bush will announce the end of major combat operations in
Iraq in a speech to the nation the evening of May 1, White House Press
Secretary Ari Fleischer told reporters, but the speech will not be a
legal declaration of an end to hostilities because "pockets of
resistance" remain.

Bush will make the speech from the deck of the aircraft carrier U.S.S.
Abraham Lincoln (at 0100 GMT May 2) as it returns to its home port of
San Diego, California from the Middle East.

The president will talk about the purpose of the military operation in
Iraq, the security of the United States, the liberation of the Iraqi
people, and the reconstruction of Iraq, Fleischer said. The White
House, Fleischer said, has formally requested that network television
broadcast the president's speech live.

General Tommy Franks notified the president April 29 that major combat
operations had ended and that focus has shifted to the next phase of
the mission, known within military circles as Phase Four, which is
reconstruction in Iraq, Fleischer said.

The aircraft carrier will be hundreds of miles from shore when the
president makes his speech. Bush will spend the night aboard the
carrier but depart via helicopter to California the morning of May 2,
before the sailors and soldiers arrive home to be reunited with their

The U.S.S. Lincoln has been deployed for nearly ten months in three
separate operations dealing with Afghanistan and Iraq.


The Bush administration remains confident that weapons of mass
destruction will turn up in Iraq, Fleischer said, in response to a

"We continue to have high confidence that the weapons of mass
destruction will be found. Iraq is a regime that was a master at
hiding it, (WMD) and there are thousands and thousands of sites where
it could be hidden, and they will be pursued as increasing evidence
comes along."

Fleischer pointed out that Saddam Hussein had some 14 years "to hide
his weapons of mass destruction, and particularly the four years when
the inspectors were out of the country."


Bush was scheduled to meet in the Oval Office late in the day April 30
with President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia.

President Bush "looks forward to his meeting this evening to talk to
President Uribe about steps that are being taken to fight the
terrorism there. And it's important. The people of Colombia have long
been struggling against terrorism there that's sapping the strength of
the country, and they deserve the support of the world," Fleischer

Asked about the murder of two journalists in Colombia a day earlier,
Fleischer said "the United States is working directly with the
Colombians, and we have a presence in the region, authorized by the
Congress, to help with the narcoterrorist war that the government of
Colombia and President Uribe are fighting."


President Bush will welcome Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik of
Norway to the White House May 16. "Norway is a close ally and good
friend of the United States. And the president and the prime minister
will discuss important challenges on the global agenda, including the
war on terrorism, reconstruction of Iraq, and transatlantic
relations," Fleischer said.

(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)