Bush made the prediction one month before the March 2003 invasion, according to leaked transcripts of talks between Bush and former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar.
“I think there is a good basis for a better future. Iraq has a good bureaucracy and a relatively robust civil society,” Bush told Aznar at a meeting at Bush's ranch in Texas, the Financial Times reported.
Bush also threatened to deny U.S. aid to Angola and block a trade deal with Chile if the two countries failed to support a U.N. resolution to invade Iraq, the Times reported. The White House eventually abandoned its bid for the resolution.
Bush also told Aznar he had rejected an offer by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to go into exile in return for $1 billion, the Financial Times reported.
The White House Thursday declined to comment on the transcript but didn't challenge the report.