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Bush to Unveil New Strategy for Iraq

U.S. President George Bush is set to announce what he says will be a new way forward in the war in Iraq. [Watch the president's address here at at 0200 UTC Thursday, 11 January 2007.] VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, Mr. Bush is expected to announce a temporary increase in U.S. troops there.

White House officials say President Bush will announce plans to send more than 17,000 additional U.S. troops to Baghdad and 4,000 more to the western Anbar Province. The first are expected to arrive next week, joining the more than 130,000 American troops in Iraq.

President Bush will present his plan in a nationwide address at a time when a majority of Americans believe the war in Iraq was a mistake. A public-opinion poll released by the newspaper USA Today this week says just 12 percent of Americans support sending more troops to Iraq.

Opposition Democrats, now in charge of both houses of Congress, say they oppose sending more troops.

A senior administration official says President Bush will say those who criticize his plan have the burden to come forward with a better alternative. That official told reporters President Bush will admit the current strategy is clearly not working, and the situation is unacceptable to him and to the American people.

The official says the five additional U.S. brigades for Baghdad will serve in support of Iraqi forces, which will take the lead in restoring security.

[In excerpts of the speech released in advance by the White House, Mr. Bush says U.S. efforts to secure Baghdad failed because there were not enough Iraqi and American forces in the capital.

In the speech excerpts, Mr. Bush says "only the Iraqis can end sectarian violence" and secure their nation. He says the Iraqi government "has put forth an aggressive plan" to do that.

Mr. Bush also warns that to pull out U.S. troops now would "force a collapse of the Iraqi government."

In the excerpts, Mr. Bush says the U.S. commitment to Iraq "is not open-ended." He says the Iraqi government will lose the support of the U.S. and Iraqi people if it fails to follow through with its commitments.]

The administration official says President Bush will speak of the consequences of failure in Iraq and how this experiment in democracy is part of a broader struggle in the Middle East between moderates and extremists.

The president will ask Congress for more than $5 billion to pay for his new strategy.

That includes more than $400 million to expand provincial reconstruction teams and $400 million in so-called quick-response funds to address civilian problems.

Following Wednesday night's nationwide address, the White House will work to rally support for the new plan with public appearances by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, as well as a Thursday speech by the president to U.S. troops in the southern state of Georgia.