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IN THE NEWS - President Bush Speaks to the American People About Iraq

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I'm Steve Ember with IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

President Bush spoke to the American people on Tuesday about the war in Iraq. Mister Bush did not announce any policy changes. He spoke on the first anniversary of the change of power from the American-led coalition to an Iraqi government. He made the speech from the Army base at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

George Bush
George Bush

The president called Iraq the "latest battlefield" in a war against terrorists who hate freedom and want to control the Middle East. He said the war reached American shores with the attacks of September eleventh, two thousand one.

Mister Bush talked about images of the violence in Iraq. He said, "I know Americans ask the question: Is the sacrifice worth it? It is worth it, and it is vital to the future security of our country."

The president said Iraq has taken steps toward a democratic government through the elections held in January. He noted that the Iraqis are in the process of writing a constitution. Mister Bush also discussed American training for members of the Iraqi security forces. In his words: "Today, Iraq has more than one hundred sixty thousand security forces trained and equipped for a variety of missions."

Mister Bush said it would be a "serious mistake" to set a time limit for withdrawing American forces. He said Iraqis "need to know that America will not leave before the job is done." And he said the enemy would know that all they have to do is wait.

The president says he is willing to send more troops, but that commanders tell him they have the number they need.

Some critics of the war say few Iraqi troops are able to operate independently. They say it will take at least two more years to build an effective Iraqi army.

President Bush talked about an increase in international assistance for Iraq in the past year. But critics noted that a number of countries have withdrawn troops or announced plans to leave, or have not yet given money promised.

More than one thousand seven hundred American service members have been killed in Iraq.

Critics have long accused the president of falsely linking Iraq and the September eleventh attacks as a reason for war. However, many now agree that the number of foreign terrorists in Iraq has increased as a result of the war. They say American troops must defeat them.

Still, public opinion research has shown an increase in the numbers of Americans who question the president's policy on the war. Fifty-three percent of those in one study done before the speech said it was a mistake to send troops to Iraq.

IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English was written by Nancy Steinbach. Our reports are on the Web at www.unsv.com. I'm Steve Ember.

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