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New Bush Iraq Plan to Be Unveiled in Wednesday Speech


President Bush will unveil his revised Iraq strategy in a televised speech to the American people on Wednesday. VOA's Paula Wolfson has details from the White House.

The president will deliver the long-awaited speech to the nation Wednesday evening, announcing the results of his two-month search for a new way forward in Iraq.

Spokesman Tony Snow acknowledges the stakes are high.

"The whole world really is watching," said Tony Snow. "And it is important to get this right."

Snow says details of the revised Iraq strategy are still being finalized, and work on the speech has just begun. During a briefing for reporters, he refused to discuss specifics, saying only that all the parties involved - including members of Congress - should have a chance to review the revised strategy before it is made public.

"I am not at liberty up here to make comments on news reports about it," he said. "As we have explained before, as matters of courtesy to members of Congress and others involved in being notified, they will be notified before we will be making a public announcement."

Media reports quoting unnamed administration officials say President Bush will call for the temporary deployment of as many as 20,000 additional troops to Iraq. These reports indicate the president will also ask Congress for hundreds of millions of dollars to employ Iraqis in reconstruction projects.

The new Democratic leadership in Congress has already warned the White House that while it supports U.S. forces already in Iraq, it does not want to see a troop surge. In an interview broadcast Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the president can no longer expect the legislature to write a blank check for the war.

She told the CBS television program Face the Nation that every request for money for Iraq will face tough scrutiny.

"We will always support the troops who are there," said Nancy Pelosi. "If the president wants to expand the mission that is a conversation he has to have with the Congress of the United States. But there is not a carte blanche or a blank check to him to do whatever he wishes there."

Last week, Pelosi and Senate Majority leader Harry Reid sent a letter to the president, urging him to reconsider any possible troop surge, and look for ways to bring American troops home.

When asked about the letter, Tony Snow said the White House welcomes a debate on its Iraq policy. He said the president understands the American public is feeling a lot of anxiety about the war, which already has claimed the lives of more than 3,000 members of the U.S. military, and thousands of Iraqis.

"I think what you have to do is see how people respond not only to the speech, but to the particulars of the plan, to the political debate that follows," he said. "And this could be fairly complex and it is going to take people a little bit of time to think through and we are going to spend a lot of time talking about it because we feel it is important to do so."

President Bush will begin his campaign to win public support for his revised Iraq strategy almost immediately after his speech to the nation. The next day, he will travel to one of the largest military bases in the country - Fort Benning, Georgia.

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