President Bush stopped in Hawaii on his way home from the Pacific rim summit in Australia. VOA White House correspondent Paula Wolfson reports from Honolulu Mr. Bush met with military commanders, and visited with wounded soldiers, sailors and marines.
The meetings in Hawaii came at a crucial time for the president's Iraq policy, as the Bush administration prepares to report to the U.S. Congress on progress in the war effort.
The president's talks with military commanders took place behind closed doors. But after his hospital visit with wounded troops, Mr. Bush spoke briefly to reporters.
He said he talked to the war wounded about his visit to Iraq's al-Anbar province - a surprise stop on his way to the Pacific rim summit in Australia. "I told them when I was in the room that I came back from Iraq encouraged by what I saw. No question there is still hard work to do. But my resolve is as strong as it has ever been. I believe we are doing the right thing there for the security of the country and the peace of the world," he said.
The president has already announced that he will be addressing the nation on Iraq in the next few days. A mandatory White House report to Congress on the situation in Iraq is due by September 15. And the two top U.S. officials in Iraq - US military commander General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker - are scheduled to appear before lawmakers on Monday and Wednesday. "I will then talk about a way forward after their report. I ask the members of Congress to sit back and listen to what we all have to say before they reach the conclusions that they're going to reach," he said.
Speaking one day after the release of a new video featuring al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, the president reaffirmed his determination to continue the fight in Iraq. "One thing is for certain: Now is the time to do the hard work in order to make sure that we can have a peaceful world, now is the time to deny radicals and extremists a safe haven, and now is the time to advance democracy in the heart of the Middle East," he said.
President Bush arrives back at the White House on Sunday morning, local time.