Bush rallies troops in Qatar

US President George W. Bush said on Thursday that the US occupation of Iraq was “justified” and vowed to find the ellusive weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the war-torn country.

    Debut: Bush's visit to Qatar was 
    the first ever by a US President 

    Bush was addressing about 2,500 cheering US air force, navy and army troops and a sprinkling of Australians and Britons at Qatar’s Camp Sayliyah, which served as central command for the US-led war. 

    Ignoring the heated debate about the failure to reveal evidence that Iraq possessed WMD, Bush renewed US accusations.

    “We found two mobile biological weapons facilities which are capable of producing biological agents,” he said. Experts say there is no evidence to suggest they produced any such weapons.

    Bush also thanked Qatar for its hospitality during the flag-waving speech.

    The tiny gas-rich country is now the focal point of US military deployment in the region. 

    He was briefed in the morning by General Tommy Franks, the US Central Command chief and Paul Bremer, the US administrator for Iraq.

    Bush arrived in Qatar late Wednesday after holding a summit in the Jordanian Red Sea resort of Aqaba with Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

    Qatar is a focal point for US
    military deployment in the region

    Key ally

    Earlier, Bush held talks with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani and thanked him for allowing Washington to run its war against Iraq from Central Command.

    It was the first visit by a US President to Qatar, which has emerged as a key US ally in the region. The Emir met Bush last month in Washington. It was the first meeting between an Arab head of state and the US President since Washington invaded Iraq.

    Bush and Sheikh Hamad discussed the Aqaba and Sharm El-Sheikh summits. This week Bush had held talks at Sharm El-Sheikh with Arab leaders to shore up support for the US-backed “road map”.

    On Wednesday he had met Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Aqaba to cement their commitment to the plan aimed at ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.


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