Playing down predictions that Iraq is headed toward civil war, President George W. Bush said Saturday that he's optimistic a new government will unify the nation. He denounced any moves by Iran or Syria to interfere in Iraq's effort to build a democracy.
"I'm optimistic that the leadership recognizes that sectarian violence will undermine the capacity for them to self-govern," Bush said. "I believe we'll have a unity government in place that will help move the process forward."
The president's hopeful words came a day after Iraqi President Jalal Talabani called the new parliament into session March 19 for the first time since it was elected nearly three months ago. Talabani said he feared "catastrophe" and "civil war" if politicians could not put aside their differences.