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Bush says US Deaths in Afghanistan Are From 'Taking the Fight' to Taliban

U.S. President George Bush acknowledged Wednesday that U.S. and NATO troops are in a tough fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan. During a brief appearance before reporters at the White House, he was asked about increased casualties there. He also outlined goals for his final G8 summit. VOA's Robert Raffaele has the story.

President Bush says the increasing death toll of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan is the result of directly engaging the Taliban.

"It has been a tough month in Afghanistan but it has also been a tough month for the Taliban," Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Bush was responding to a reporter's question about reports that, for the second month in a row, more U.S. and NATO troops died in Afghanistan than in Iraq.

At least 45 foreign troops died in Afghanistan in June. Thirty-one died in Iraq.

June was also the deadliest month for foreign forces in Afghanistan since the U.S.-led invasion pushed the Taliban from power in 2001.

"One reason why there have been more deaths is because our troops are taking the fight to a tough enemy," Mr. Bush said. "You know, an enemy that doesn't like our presence there because they don't like the idea of America denying safe haven."

But Mr. Bush insisted the fight for a free Afghanistan is not lost.

"I am confident that the strategy is going to work," President Bush said.

Mr. Bush also used the Rose Garden appearance to outline his goals for next week's G8 summit in Japan, the last of his presidency.

He urged G8 leaders to honor their commitments to combat HIV/AIDS and malaria, especially in Africa.

Another big issue: the global food crisis.

"We need to help severely affected nations grow more of their own food," he said. "It's one thing to provide food - it seems like it makes sense to me to say, we're going to help you become agriculturally self-sustaining."

Mr. Bush announced the U.S. will make available nearly $1 billion in additional resources to bolster food supplies.