President Bush, under pressure to defend his policies in Iraq, says the war-torn country is on track to hold national elections "no later than January."

Mr. Bush used his weekly radio address Saturday to counter attacks by Democrats and some Republicans that the situation in Iraq is deteriorating. He said that country is making steady progress under his "five-step" plan, and he vowed to stand firm with the government of Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.

The president acknowledged the slow pace of reconstruction. He pledged to spend more than $9 billion over the next several months to rebuild schools and hospitals, repair bridges, and modernize Iraqi electrical and communication systems.