President Bush is planning to name new U.S. military commanders for Iraq and the Middle East, as he prepares to announce his new Iraq strategy next week.
Administration officials are quoted by the New York Times and Washington Post as saying the president will name U.S. Army Lieutenant General David Petraeus to replace General George Casey as commander of U.S. forces in Iraq. He is also set to choose Navy Admiral William Fallon to succeed Army General John Abizaid as head of the U.S. Central Command.
General Petraeus led the early effort to train Iraqi security forces. Admiral Fallon is the top U.S. military commander in the Pacific Ocean.
Mr. Bush says his new Iraq policy, which he plans to unveil next week, will help Iraqis achieve their objective of being able to govern, sustain and defend themselves.
News reports say the new strategy could include a short-term surge of thousands of troops into the country.
On the diplomatic front, current U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, Ryan Crocker, is expected to become the next ambassador in Iraq. Current ambassador Zalmay Khalilizad will be nominated to replace John Bolton as the U.S. ambassador to the U.N.
President Bush spoke for nearly two hours by video teleconference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Thursday. Mr. Bush says he sought assurances from Mr. al-Maliki that he was willing to do the hard work necessary to protect the Iraqi people.
The two also discussed execution of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Mr. Bush said he wished Saddam's execution had been conducted in a more dignified way.