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Bush Says His Iraq Policy Needs More Time to Work

President Bush is urging Congress and the American people to give his Iraq policy time to work - this as a new poll shows opposition to the war remains high. We have more on the story from VOA White House Correspondent Paula Wolfson.

Days before the president is due to send an interim report on Iraq to Congress, he made an appeal for patience.

"I fully understand as we are watching the violence on TV every night, people are saying: 'Is it worth it? Can we accomplish an objective?' Well, first I want to tell you yes, we can accomplish and win this fight in Iraq. And secondly, I want to tell you we must," he said.

During an appearance in Cleveland, Ohio, Mr. Bush urged Congress to look beyond the interim report, which is due on Capitol Hill by Sunday, July 15. He said lawmakers should wait until September, when the U.S. Commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, issues his final report on the situation following the deployment of 30,000 additional troops.

"I believe that it is in this nation's interest to give the commander a chance to fully implement his operations," he said. "And I believe Congress ought to wait for General Petraeus to come back and give an assessment of the strategy that he is putting in place before they make any decisions."

But many members of the House and Senate are running out of patience. They are attaching amendments dealing with the Iraq war to legislation making its way through Congress that authorizes defense spending.

Democrat Carl Levin of Michigan, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, wants a firm timetable for a draw-down of U.S. troops.

"Without setting a date to begin a phased reduction of troops and a phased redeployment of troops there is much too little pressure on the Iraqi leaders to do what only they can do: which is to work out a political settlement," he said.

Republican leaders in the Senate have vowed to block the Levin amendment. But a growing number of Republican Senators have doubts about the president's strategy.

Perhaps the most prominent is Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee. He stunned Washington with a recent speech on the Senate floor in which he questioned the president's war policy and spoke about the split the unpopular conflict has created in the Congress and in America.

"Unless we recalibrate our strategy in Iraq to fit our domestic political conditions and the broader needs of United States national security, we risk foreign policy failures that could greatly diminish our influence in the region and the world," he said.

All this comes as a new poll shows more than 70 percent of Americans favor removing almost all U.S. troops from Iraq by April.

The poll by the USA Today newspaper and the Gallup polling organization surveyed more than one thousand Americans last weekend. The poll also puts the president's approval rating at 29 percent.