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Bush Praises Iraqi Vice President During White House Meeting

U.S. President George Bush says his decision to dispatch more troops to Iraq is designed to give the country's leaders a chance to reconcile their political differences. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, Mr. Bush met with Iraq's vice president in Washington.

President Bush praised Vice President Adil Abd al-Mahdi's courage in escaping a recent assassination attempt. Following their talks, the president said sending more than 20,000 additional U.S. troops is meant to help Iraq's political reconciliation.

"The main reason why I have reinforced our troops in Iraq is to give leaders such as yourself the opportunity to do the hard work of reconciliation," the president said. "I appreciate very much the progress that you are making. I know it is hard work."

Vice President al-Mahdi thanked President Bush for the support he has shown Iraq's government, and said the Baghdad security plan is making progress.

"We are not finished, but we are doing better than expected in this plan," he said. "This will not solve the whole problem; the reconciliation process will take our political agenda forward."

U.S. military officials say the latest effort to stop sectarian violence in Baghdad has reduced killings, kidnappings, and bombings. But they caution that it will be months before the operation could be called a success.

A public opinion poll by the CNN television network says nearly 60 percent of Americans oppose the president's sending more troops to Iraq. Just more than 60 percent believe the United States is not winning the war.

Opposition Democrats, who control Congress, are pushing for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. President Bush says he will veto any legislation limiting his ability to conduct the war.