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Bush Urges Patience on Iraq


President Bush is under increased pressure from members of his own political party to show positive results in Iraq. VOA's Paula Wolfson reports from the White House, where the president met behind closed doors with concerned Republicans from the House of Representatives.

While Congress is wrestling with how to fund the Iraq war at a time of growing public opposition, Republican lawmakers are letting the president know their patience with his approach is wearing thin.

Eleven congressional Republicans - all of them considered political moderates - came to the White House Wednesday for a private meeting to share their concerns with the president.

The meeting was not on Mr. Bush's published schedule, and did not become public until congressional participants decided to speak to the media. Among them was Congressman Tom Davis of Virginia.

"The president listened," he said. "He was engaged. This was not a suck-up session [an attempt to curry favor], but this was very, very candid."

The 11 lawmakers delivered what they called a blunt warning to the president. They said while they would support the administration in the current fight over war funding, their long term support for the war is in question.

They said there must be progress in Iraq soon, and expressed frustration not only with the continued high level of violence, but with the slow pace of action by the Iraqi government.

The White House initially declined to respond to questions about Wednesday's meeting. But the president did comment early Thursday during a visit to the Pentagon.

"They expressed their opinions," he said. "They are obviously concerned about the Iraq war."

Mr. Bush said he had a good exchange with the Republican delegation. He said he told them to be patient, and give his new Iraq strategy time to be implemented.

"I said why don't we wait and see what happens," he said. "Let's give this plan a chance to work, and stop playing politics."

The president noted that sectarian killings have declined since U.S. troops stepped up their presence in Baghdad and al-Anbar province. But he said attacks by al-Qaida in Iraq are likely to rise because the terrorists feel threatened.

"As we have surged our forces, al-Qaida is responding with their own surge," the president said. "Al-Qaida is ratcheting up its campaign of high-profile attacks, including deadly suicide bombings carried out by foreign terrorists."

The president said U.S. and coalition forces will strike back. He said despite the bloodshed, he remains convinced the war is necessary, and noble.

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