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Bush Cites Progress in Iraq War

In his weekly radio address Saturday, President Bush says U.S. troop reinforcements in Iraq are helping to reduce sectarian violence there. A short while later, a former Democratic senator gave a radio address saying the war is encouraging terrorists. VOA White House correspondent Scott Stearns has more.

The White House is due to give a key report on Iraq to Congress in mid-September. In the time leading up to that presentation, Mr. Bush is working to restore support for the war.

In a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars this past week, he compared the fight in Iraq to past U.S. military intervention in Asia. In remarks to the American Legion this coming Tuesday, Mr. Bush is expected to talk about how the conflict affects the broader Middle East.

And in his weekly radio address Saturday, the president says his decision to send more troops to Iraq is beginning to show results.

"We are still in the early stages of our new operations. But the success of the past couple of months has shown that conditions on the ground can change - and they are changing," said Mr. Bush. "We cannot expect the new strategy we are carrying out to bring success overnight. But by standing with the Iraqi people as they build their democracy, we will deliver a devastating blow to al-Qaida, we will help provide new hope for millions of people throughout the Middle East, we will gain a friend and ally in the war on terror, and we will make the American people safer."

Public opinion polls show a majority of Americans now believe the war is a mistake. A CBS News survey this month shows more than two-thirds of Americans disapprove of how the president is handling the war.

In the Democratic radio address, former Senator Max Cleland says a majority of Americans see a profound difference between what he calls the president's optimistic rhetoric and the grim reality of a fight which has so far claimed nearly 4,000 American lives.

"The truth is that despite this enormous sacrifice, we find ourselves mired in a civil war with no end in sight and Iraqis unable or unwilling to make the political decisions necessary to end this conflict. And the truth is President Bush's decision to go to war, and stay at war, has actually encouraged thousands of new recruits for al-Qaida in Iraq and around the world," said Cleland.

Much of the president's September 15 report to Congress will be based on advice from the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, and the top U.S. commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus.

The president will also consider the latest assessment by the U.S. intelligence community, which this past week concluded that "Iraqi political leaders remain unable to govern effectively."

The intelligence report says security should improve modestly over the next year so long as U.S.-led coalition forces conduct strong counterinsurgency operations and continue backing Iraqi forces.

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