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Bush Facing Opposition on Iraqi Troop Surge


In the coming week, U.S. President George Bush is expected to call for a temporary increase in U.S. troops in Iraq. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, the troop surge idea is already facing opposition from many in Congress, including some from the president's own political party.

President Bush says his new thinking on Iraq is taking shape as he nears completion of a review of U.S. strategy there following his Republican Party's losses in November legislative elections.

Following a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel this past week, Mr. Bush said he will set clear goals for success in Iraq.

"One thing for certain is that I will want to make sure that the mission is clear and specific and can be accomplished," said Mr. Bush.

With opposition Democrats now in charge of both houses of Congress, they are criticizing the idea of a temporary troop surge even before the president unveils his plan.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said adding to the more than 140,000 U.S. troops already in Iraq would be a serious mistake.

"Our troops and their families have already sacrificed a great deal for Iraq," he said. "They have done their part. It's time for the Iraqis to do their part."

In the Democratic radio address broadcast on Saturday, Reid said the president should start pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq in the next four to six months.

President Bush met with senators Friday to discuss his plans for Iraq and reportedly told them he would only approve a temporary troop surge if the Iraqi government offers certain guarantees.

Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu was in that meeting. She says many legislators from both parties are concerned about sending more troops to Iraq.

"It's not only that many Democrats have some questions about that, many Republicans have questions about a troop surge, which has been expressed in this meeting and outside of this meeting and all around the country," she noted.

Public opinion polls show a majority of Americans now believe the war in Iraq was a mistake.

While most Republican legislators are waiting to hear what the president has to say about Iraq, some, including Senator Susan Collins and Congresswoman Heather Wilson, are publicly opposed to a troop surge.

White House officials say the president understands those reservations.

In the president's weekly radio address, he pledged to work with Democratic leaders in Congress on a new budget and on efforts to improve education. But there was no mention of Iraq.

The president will continue consulting with members of Congress in the coming week before his nationwide address on Iraq.

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