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Next U.S. administration move on Iraq likely to involve troop increase

Next U.S. administration move on Iraq likely to involve troop increase

President George W. Bush says he wished the execution of deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein "had gone in a more dignified way." After conferring with Iraq's prime minister, Bush also said he will make a speech next week announcing his decisions about how to proceed with the nearly 4-year-old war.
Considering sending more troops to deal with the rising violence in Baghdad, Bush said, "One thing is for certain: I will want to make sure the mission is clear and specific and can be accomplished."
Bush and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki spoke on a secure video hookup Thursday for close to two hours, a sign the president was close to announcing his new strategy for Iraq. The White House said it could be their last conversation before Bush details his decisions in a major speech.
Bush appeared later with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and recounted some of his discussions with al-Maliki.
The president said he talked with the prime minister about the final moments of Saddam's life, when he was taunted before being hanged. An unauthorized video showed images of Saddam's dangling body.
"My personal reaction is that Saddam Hussein was given a trial that he was unwilling to give the thousands of people he killed," Bush said. "He was given a fair trial, something he was unwilling to give thousands of Iraqi citizens who he brutalized."
"I wish, obviously, that the proceedings had gone on in a more dignified way," Bush said. "But nevertheless he was given justice. The thousands of people he killed were not."
Bush said he sought assurances from al-Maliki that he had the will to do the hard work necessary to protect Iraqis against rising sectarian violence.
"I believe Prime Minister Maliki has the will necessary to make the tough decisions," the president said.
Bush announced that he would go before the nation next week with his long-anticipated speech about the next steps in Iraq. The war was a major factor in the Republicans' loss of Congress and Bush's slide in polls. More than 3,000 members of the U.S. military and tens of thousands of Iraqis have lost their lives in the war.
"I'll be ready to outline a strategy that will help the Iraqis achieve the objective of a country that can govern, sustain and defend itself sometime next week," the president said. "I've still got consultations to go through."
Some members of Congress have been invited to the White House on Friday for discussions about Iraq.