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Bush Speech to Focus on Iraq and US Economy - 2003-01-27

President Bush is making final preparations for his State of the Union address Tuesday that aides say will focus on Iraq and ways to boost the U.S. economy.

White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett says Mr. Bush will emphasize in his speech to the nation that the standoff in the Persian Gulf is in its last diplomatic phase, and the prospect for war is very real.

Bush aides say the president will talk about Iraq's ties to terrorist organization and its arsenal of warheads and dangerous toxins that could fall into the hands of terrorists and threaten the United States and world security.

One recent opinion poll indicates 81 percent of Americans do not want the United States to go to war against Iraq without the support of allies and the international community.

The poll by Newsweek magazine also shows that 59 percent of Americans support giving international inspectors more time to complete their work in Iraq.

White House officials say Mr. Bush will also address domestic concerns, especially economic issues. He is expected to promote tax cut proposals that are part of his 10 year, $674 billion economic stimulus plan; and talk about the need to reform health care for Americans.

The U.S. Constitution requires a president to report to Congress on the state of the union "from time to time."

The requirement evolved from a written message throughout most of the 19th century to an annual address delivered by the president at the end of January every year, before a joint session of Congress. The speech is broadcast to the nation and provides the president with a forum to promote his priorities in the new year.

VOA will broadcast the annual State of the Union speech Tuesday night at 9:00 pm EDT (0200 UTC Wednesday).