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Despite Setback, Bush Optimistic on Iraqi Charter
President Lauds 'Heroic Efforts' of Negotiators as Some Critics Fault U.S. Emphasis on Deadlines
By Peter Baker and Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, August 16, 2005; A10
"We are witnessing democracy at work in Iraq," Rice said. "The new constitution will be the most important document in the history of the new Iraq. We are confident that they will complete this process and continue on the path toward elections for a permanent government at the end of the year."
The delay may not have much lasting significance if it leads to a document with broader support across sectarian lines. Negotiators have been divided over delicate questions such as women's rights in an Islamic society and the degree of regional control that Shiite and Kurdish sections would enjoy. U.S. officials noted that representatives of the Sunni minority remain involved, deeming that critical to defusing popular support for the Sunni-dominated insurgency.
"It's quite remarkable how much the process has become more inclusive over the last couple of months," Rice said. She added that any final document should guarantee women's rights. "We've been very clear that a modern Iraq will be an Iraq in which women are recognized as full and equal citizens," Rice said. "And I have every confidence that that is how Iraqis feel."
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