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Bush Calls for Progress on New Iraqi Government

President Bush says Iraqi politicians must move quickly to form a government of national unity, warning that a power vacuum will only bring more violence. Iraqi politicians remain deadlocked.

President Bush says the political process in Iraq must begin to show progress soon.

"We fully recognize that the Iraqis must step up and form a unity government so that those who went to the polls to vote recognize that a government will be in place to respond to their needs," Mr. Bush says. "We also recognize that vacuums in the political process create opportunity for malfeasance and harm."

Shi'ite, Sunni Arab, and Kurdish politicians have not been able to agree on who will serve as the nation's next prime minister. Current Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari remains the candidate of the dominant Shi'ite block in parliament. Sunni and Kurdish leaders want a change, saying he has not done enough to stop violence.

President Bush spoke following a breakfast meeting with the governors of four American states who last weekend visited U.S. troops in Afghanistan, Kuwait, and Iraq.

Mr. Bush says the U.S. goal in Afghanistan and Iraq remains total victory.

"Victory will be achieved when there is a democracy in both countries that is able to sustain itself and defend itself," he says.

The president is continuing to speak out about Iraq at a time of record low public approval ratings and falling public support for the war. A USA Today / Gallup poll this month shows 32 percent of Americans approve of the president's handling of the war, 65 percent disapprove. The poll says 57 percent now believe it was a mistake to invade Iraq.

Mr. Bush says he is certain it was the right decision to topple Saddam Hussein and the move will ultimately make America safer.

"I do not expect everybody to agree with my decision to go into Iraq, but I do want the people to understand, the American people to understand, that failure in Iraq is not an option, that failure in Iraq would make the security situation for our country worse, and that success in Iraq will begin to lay the foundation of peace for generations to come," he says.

The president says Iraq is a central front in the broader fight against terrorism and it is better to fight those enemies abroad than at home.