WASHINGTON, May 12 (UPI) -- President Bush met with former secretaries of defense and state Friday over the war in Iraq and broader Middle East issues.
Former secretaries of state attending were: Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright, Warren Christopher, James Baker III and Alexander Haig, Jr.
Former defense secretaries attending were: William Cohen, Frank Carlucci, James Schlesinger, Melvin Laird and Robert S. McNamara.
""It really means a lot to hear your thoughts and concerns and your suggestions about the way forward in Iraq," Bush said during a photo opportunity following the meeting.
"We've had our disagreements in this country about whether or not we should be there in the fist place. Now the fundamental question is: How do we achieve our objective, which is a democracy which can defend itself, sustain itself; a country which is an ally in the war on terror, and a country which serves as a powerful example for others who desire to be free?"
The meeting was the second Bush has held with the former officials. He last met with them in January.
Bush reiterated progress made in Iraq in forming a government, but also added "there are certainly challenges, and the secretaries here discussed those challenges with us."
Also attending the meeting were Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.