Alexa

Bush says he and national security advisers making progress on crafting new policy on Iraq

Bush says he and national security advisers making progress on crafting new policy on Iraq

President George W. Bush said Thursday that meeting with his national security advisers put him one step closer to making changes to U.S. strategy in Iraq, but that he will seek more advice before settling on a final plan.
"We've got more consultation to do until I talk to the country about the plan," Bush said outside an office building near his Texas ranch where he stood with Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
"The key to success in Iraq is to have a government that's willing to deal with the elements that are trying to prevent this young democracy from succeeding."
Bush, saddled with low approval ratings on Iraq and under increasing pressure to come up with a new war plan, took no questions from reporters and offered no details about the strategy he is set to announce to the nation after the first of the year.
The president is considering the so-called surge option: increasing the number of troops in Iraq and embedding more U.S. advisers in Iraqi units in hopes of quelling violence to provide a window of opportunity for political reconciliation and rebuilding.
Some military experts viewed the president's unexpected remarks last week that he backs future expansion of the overall size of the Army and Marine Corps to lessen the strain on ground forces as a hint that he plans to send in more troops.
"As I think about this plan, I always have our troops in mind," Bush said in a brief statement in which he thanked the troops for their service.
He pledged to continue consulting with members of Congress and the Iraqis,and stressed the importance of having a government in Iraq that can deal with the militias and the rising violence.
Bush said one of his resolutions for the new year is that the troops will be safe and that the United States would come closer to its goal in 2007 of having an Iraq that can sustain independence and govern itself.
"We want to help them succeed," Bush said.
"I fully understand that it's important to have both Republicans and Democrats understanding the importance of this mission," he said.
"It's important for the American people to understand that success in Iraq is vital for our own security. If we were not to succeed in Iraq, the enemy _ the extremists, the radicals _ would have safe haven from which to launch further attacks. They would be emboldened. They would be in a position to threaten the United States of America."
Initially, White House advisers said Bush would announce a plan before Christmas. Then, they said it was more likely after the first of the year. Now, they say only that Bush will deliver his speech sometime between the start of the new year and his State of the Union address on Jan. 23.


Updated : 2021-02-25 19:32 GMT+08:00