US President George W. Bush said Tuesday that the violence rocking Iraq is part of an al-Qaeda plot to goad Iraqi factions into repeated attacks and counterattacks. "No question it's tough, no question about it," Bush said at a news conference with Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves. "There's a lot of sectarian violence taking place, fomented in my opinion because of the attacks by al-Qaeda causing people to seek reprisal."
Bush said the latest cycle of violence does not represent a new era in Iraq. "We've been in this phase for a while," Bush said, according to the AP.
Bush, who is expected to meet later this week with the Iraqi premier said he will ask Nouri al-Maliki to explain his plan for quelling the violence. "The Maliki government is going to have to deal with that violence and we want to help them do so," the president said. "It's in our interest that we succeed."
Bush continued to express his administration's reluctance to talk with Iran and Syria regarding the situation in Iraq. "The Iranians and the Syrians should help - not destabilize - this young democracy," he said.