US President George W Bush has said he would accept an Islamic government in Iraq as the result of free elections.
Bush says he would grudgingly accept Islamic rule in Iraq
Mr Bush told the Associated Press in an interview that he would accept such a result if elections were open and fair.
"I will be disappointed. But democracy is democracy," he said during an interview given on Air Force One.
"If that's what the people choose, that's what the people choose," he said. Free elections are expected in the country next January.
Speaking as he travelled between campaign stops, Mr Bush said the US would leave Iraq "once we've helped them to get on the path of stability and democracy".
He added: "It's very difficult for me to predict
what forces will exist although I will tell you that Iraq's
leadership has made it quite clear that they can manage
their own affairs at the appropriate time."
Correspondents say Mr Bush's comments appear to clash with earlier remarks from his administration which rejected calls soon after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime for the creation of an Islamic state similar to that of its neighbour, Iran.