U.S. President George Bush Saturday hosted a social lunch for French President Nicholas Sarkozy at the Bush family home in Maine. VOA White House correspondent Scott Stearns reports, Mr. Bush said in his weekly radio address there is encouraging progress in Iraq. Opposition Democrats say the war is undermining America's military readiness.
President Bush says his strategy to send more U.S. troops to Iraq is delivering good results.
"The enemy in Iraq is still dangerous, and the surge is still in its early stages," he said. "Changing conditions on the ground is difficult work. But our troops are proving that it can be done."
In his weekly radio address, the president says encouraging developments in Iraq include a coalition airstrike that killed the al-Qaida terrorist behind the bombing of a major Shi'ite shrine in Samarra.
That 2006 bombing set off the sectarian violence that has killed thousands of Iraqis.
A public opinion poll this past week by CNN showed nearly two-thirds of Americans oppose the war, about the same number who disapprove of how the president is doing his job.
Mr. Bush hopes to rebuild some support for the war ahead of a report to Congress next month by the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad Ryan Crocker and General David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq.
On Thursday, President Bush told reporters at the White House that building support for the war is difficult when political progress in Iraq has been slower than hoped.
"A lot of Americans look at it and say, there's nothing happening there; there's, like, no government at all, I expect they're saying," he added.
In the Democratic radio address, California Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher says the war in Iraq is hurting military readiness by forcing troops to return to battle too soon.
The army recommends two years away from combat for each year on the battlefield. Tauscher says U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are now getting 12 months at home for every 15 months in combat.
"The president's surge has sent many of our army units to Iraq for the second and third time," she said. "We are asking our troops to make heroic sacrifices, yet as soon as they return, we rush them back into battle."
The House this past week passed Tauscher's legislation setting minimum periods of rest between deployments. President Bush says he will veto the bill if it reaches his desk, because it infringes on his powers as commander-in-chief.
President Bush met informally Saturday with French President Sarkozy. There was no agenda for the hamburger and hotdog picnic at the Bush family home in Maine. White House officials have spoken of a new era in Franco-American relations. The French president has also spoken of his friendship for the United States. In an unusual move for a French president, Mr. Sarkozy is vacationing in the United States, in the neighboring state of New Hampshire.