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Bush: Iraq Safer, More Democratic


U.S. President George Bush is saluting Iraq's government for approving two agreements with the United States, which he says will make Iraq's democracy stronger.

In the final weeks of his presidency, Mr. Bush is reminding Americans of the successes of his administration, especially in Iraq.

The president devoted his weekly radio address Saturday to emphasizing the progress made since U.S. troop strength in Iraq was increased in 2007.

"Today, violence is down dramatically. Our forces have struck powerful blows against al-Qaida," said Mr. Bush. "The Iraqi military is growing in capability, taking the lead in the fight against the extremists, and working across sectarian lines. Sunni, Shia and Kurdish leaders are sitting together at the same table to peacefully resolve their differences and chart their country's future. And there is hope in the eyes of young Iraqis for the first time in many years."

Mr. Bush thanked Iraq's government for approving two agreements with the United States in recent days. He says the Strategic Framework Agreement will set out a common vision for the future of U.S.-Iraqi relations.

"Under this agreement, we will work together to bring greater stability to Iraq and the region. We will promote trade and investment between our nations. And we will support Iraq's leaders and their citizens as they strengthen their democratic institutions," Mr. Bush said.

President Bush also commended Iraq for ratifying the Status of Forces Agreement, which he says will help protect U.S. troops and civilian workers as Iraq's government exercises greater sovereignty.

"Our military commanders have assured me that the agreement's provisions meet this purpose. At the same time, it also respects the authority of the Iraqi government. And it lays out a framework for the withdrawal of American forces in Iraq - a withdrawal that is possible because of the success of the surge."

The radio address follows a speech at a Washington think tank on Friday, in which Mr. Bush said his administration has made a positive difference throughout the Middle East, mainly in Iraq and in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

In the Democratic Party radio address, President-elect Barack Obama laid out several parts of his economic recovery plan, including proposals to rebuild roads and schools. Mr. Obama says action is needed now.

"That is why I have asked my economic team to develop an economic recovery plan for both Wall Street and Main Street that will help save or create at least 2.5 million jobs, while rebuilding our infrastructure, improving our schools, reducing our dependence on oil, and saving billions of dollars."

Mr. Obama, who will take office on January 20, acknowledged Friday's announcement that 533,000 American jobs were lost in November.

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