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Bush Examining Options on Iraq Policy


U.S. President George Bush says his administration is reviewing the bipartisan report issued this past week on the situation in Iraq, and will seriously consider its recommendations. VOA's Sean Maroney reports from Washington, the president says he will also review other assessments of U.S. strategy in Iraq.

President Bush says he agrees with the Iraq Study Group's assessment that the country can "govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself." In his weekly radio address Saturday, he also said he was encouraged that the group shared his reservations against an abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country.

"The Iraq Study Group understands the urgency of getting it right in Iraq," said Mr. Bush. "The group also understands that while the work ahead will not be easy, success in Iraq is important, and success in Iraq is possible."

The report, issued Wednesday, made specific recommendations for what it calls a "grave and deteriorating situation" in Iraq. Among them is withdrawal of most U.S. combat troops by early 2008. It also recommends U.S. forces gradually switch from combat to training and support.

The report suggests the United States move to a regional, rather than unilateral, approach to stabilizing the country.

President Bush responded that neither he nor Congress will approve of all 79 recommendations. However, he promised to seriously consider them, along with reviews by the Pentagon, the State Department and the National Security Council.

"I look forward to receiving their recommendations. I want to hear all advice as I make the decisions to chart a new course in Iraq," he added.

In the Democratic radio address, incoming House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Sylvestre Reyes, said the Iraq Study Group's report echoes his party's position to chart a new course.

"Their report confirms what most of us have known for some time, President Bush's policy of stay the course is not working," he said. "We need a new approach."

Reyes agreed with the report's suggestion for the United States to engage Iran and Syria in dialogue.

"President Bush has not done this, but he must, because our nation's security and the well-being of over 150,000 troops there depend on it," he added.

On Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she is ready for wide-ranging dialogue with her Iranian counterpart, if Iran halts uranium enrichment and returns to negotiations on its nuclear program.

In his radio address, Mr. Bush said it is the responsibility of both Republicans and Democrats to work on finding the best way forward.

"The future of a vital region of the world and the security of the American people depend on victory in Iraq," added Mr. Bush. "I'm confident that we can move beyond our political differences and come together to achieve that victory."

This coming week, the president is scheduled to meet with military officials and independent experts on Iraq.

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