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President Bush Heading to Texas for Working Vacation

U.S. President George Bush heads to his Texas ranch Tuesday for a week-long holiday break. But as VOA's Paula Wolfson reports from Washington, it will be very much a working vacation.

President Bush is expected to announce a revised strategy for Iraq early in 2007. And, over the course of the next week, he will have a chance to continue consultations and review his options in the informal setting of his family home.

The fate of American troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan was very much on his mind as he gathered with his family for a Christmas celebration at Camp David, the U.S. presidential retreat in the mountains outside Washington.

It was a quiet holiday observance, including services at the rustic chapel on the Camp David grounds and a turkey dinner with all the trimmings.

On Christmas Eve, the president placed calls from Camp David to 10 members of the U.S. military - two from each branch of the armed forces. Most are spending this holiday season in Iraq or Afghanistan, and Mr. Bush told them he is proud of their service.

The president also recorded a holiday message to the troops, in which he said they are deployed in a noble cause.

"During this season of celebration, we are especially grateful for the service and sacrifice of those in our armed forces," he said. "America's men and women in uniform are the best our nation has to offer, and you belong to the finest military the world has ever known."

Mr. Bush said, by confronting the terrorists and helping the oppressed, America's soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, are making their own country safer, and laying the foundations of peace for generations to come.