U.S. President George W. Bush is spending the Christmas holiday with his family at Camp David the presidential retreat just outside Washington. He made Christmas Eve phone calls to American troops stationed abroad.
The president talked to nine members of the U.S. armed forces who are serving their country this Christmas in Bosnia, Afghanistan, South Korea, on American vessels at sea and in the state of Alaska.
A White House spokesman said those called represent all five branches of the U.S. military, but declined to say if any are deployed in the Persian Gulf where American ships are on patrol.
Spokesman Scott Stanzel said Mr. Bush wanted to extend his thanks and those of the American people. He said these servicemen and women are making sacrifices in the defense of freedom, and the president wanted them to know that the thoughts and prayers of the nation are with them.
Mr. Stanzel noted the president is getting regular updates on developments regarding Iraq and North Korea while at Camp David. Mr. Bush went to the presidential retreat on Saturday and will remain until Thursday, when he heads to his Texas ranch to mark the start of the new year with family and friends.
The president plans to keep a low profile for the remainder of the holiday season, say aides.