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Bush: Situation in Iraq Has Turned from Bleak to Hopeful

President Bush has repeated his contention that the battle against terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere is necessary, worthwhile and winnable. Mr. Bush was addressing U.S. servicemembers at an Air Force base in Alaska, during a brief stop en route to South Korea, beginning an Asian trip that will also take the president to Thailand and China. From Washington, VOA's Michael Bowman reports.

In coming days, President Bush will tend to U.S. interests in the Pacific, far removed from the Middle East. Yet, hours before his scheduled arrival in South Korea, Mr. Bush showed that he remains focused on America's continued engagement in Iraq as well as the broader war on terrorism.

The president told service members in Alaska that the situation in Iraq has turned from bleak to hopeful. He said, a year ago, "people were saying, 'let us get out of there, it does not matter to our national security.'" But President Bush told the troops that now "terrorists are on the run. The terrorists will be denied a safe haven, and freedom is on the march."

Mr. Bush said his goal is to spread freedom in Iraq and elsewhere, based on the belief that free societies make for a more peaceful world.

Next Stop, Volatile Asia

President Bush's trip to Asia, likely to be his last as president, is designed to highlight America's engagement in the Far East. While in South Korea, he is expected to address issues concerning North Korean nuclear disarmament. In Thailand, Mr. Bush will meet with Burmese activists who oppose their country's military junta.

The most high-profile portion of the trip will be in China, where the president will attend the ceremonies and festivities surrounding the Olympics. While lending added prestige to China's hosting of the summer games, President Bush says he will speak with Chinese officials on the need for greater freedom and openness in their country.

Mr. Bush will become the first US president to attend the Olympic games on foreign soil.