The United States applauds the bold agreement announced today on the Iraqi constitution. Today was a good day for Iraq. As Iraqis prepare to vote their consciences in the coming referendum, leaders who have led the democratic process and leaders who have boycotted it have decisively settled their differences and joined together to announce, "Vote yes for Iraq’s constitution."

They have done what only democratic leaders can do - they have discussed, argued, consulted their constituents, and reached compromises. They have done this at a time when terrorist insurgents and sectarianism seek to pull them apart, and the U.S. welcomes their decision.

At the core of their agreement is a decision to mandate the next democratically elected Council of Representatives to review the constitution after its passage and recommend any amendments necessary to cement it as a national compact. This constitution, the basis of Iraq’s emerging democratic government and the road map to its future, will be a living document, as all enduring constitutions are. Iraqi leaders have also expanded the charter to guarantee Iraq’s unity, broaden its vision of Iraq’s national identity and to send a message guaranteeing the rights and freedoms of rank and file members of the former Ba’ath Party who did not commit crimes. They have ensured that the next parliament will create a committee to monitor and review the de-Ba’athification Commission.

These Iraqi leaders have disproved a cynical axiom about the Middle East: It goes, "If I am strong, why should I compromise? And if I am weak, how can I compromise?" The strong have compromised and those who had stayed outside the political process have taken a step back in. The United Iraqi Alliance, a Shia coalition that leads the largest bloc in Iraq’s parliament and leads its cabinet, could have refused to compromise. Instead they decided to make a bold move to embrace national unity.

The Kurdistan Alliance helped shape this effort. They have broadened the constitution’s conception of national identity as well as their own. These two groups, flush with power and influence in Iraq’s government, have decided to open the door to their rivals and welcome every side into the political tent.

A major group of Sunni Arab leaders have made a remarkably brave decision in the face of terrorists’ threats. They have decided to back the constitution after leading a campaign against it. They have decided to enter the political process after boycotting the last national elections. The Iraqi Islamic Party, the Sunni Religious Endowment, and now leaders throughout the Sunni Arab community are calling upon their followers to vote yes to the constitution. Their vote represents more than support for the constitution. It represents an affirmation of Iraq’s political process and a stand against those who would obstruct it to push for a return to tyranny.

Iraqis have a fateful decision ahead of them on Saturday, and they are being guided by a bold and wide array of leaders to vote for a national compact that unites the Iraqi people and isolates those who would push them apart. I urge Iraqis to read the document carefully and vote their consciences on the 15th. They have the future of their country in their hands. As Americans we are proud to have played a role in helping the people of Iraq decide their own future.