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Bush Meets Democrats on Iraq

U.S. President George Bush told legislators from the Democratic Party, which now controls Congress, that his new strategy for the war in Iraq is the best chance for success. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, Democrats are pushing Congressional resolutions opposing the president's plan to send more U.S. troops.

Acknowledging opposition to his plans for Iraq, President Bush said he and Democrats do agree on some things, including the need for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government to show strong leadership.

At a meeting of House Democrats, Mr. Bush thanked their leader, Nancy Pelosi, for briefing him on her recent trip to Iraq.

"She said loud and clear, 'Mr. President, you have got to make it clear to the Iraqi people that their government has got to perform.' And I understand that. I agree, Madame Speaker," he said. "There has got to be success, not only on the military front. In other words, the Iraqis have got to be taking the lead in Baghdad to secure its capital, but there has also got to be success on the political front."

This was the president's first-ever appearance before an informal meeting of House Democrats. The party won control of both houses of Congress last year in an election decided largely over voter displeasure with the war.

In a private session with legislators, Mr. Bush took questions on Iraq, veterans' benefits, the budget, Hurricane Katrina, immigration, and global warming.

Speaker Pelosi said Democrats were encouraged by the president's remarks and believe they can work with him on immigration reform and alternative energy. But she made clear there are still sharp divisions over the war.

"The president really stood his ground on Iraq. He explained why he thought additional troops were needed, and why the surge would work this time, says she parenthetically, when it has failed four times before," she said.

Democrats in the House and Senate are working on nonbinding resolutions opposing the president's plan. They have the support of some key Republicans and are considering options including refusing to pay for deploying the additional troops.