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Bush: Extra Troops Will Give Iraqi Government ‘Breathing Space’

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 23, 2007 – About half of the U.S. troops involved in the surge to Baghdad and Anbar province have arrived in Iraq and are beginning their work of providing security so the Iraqi government can move forward, President Bush said here today.

“These troops are all aimed at helping the Iraqi government find the breathing space necessary to do what the people want them to do, and that is to reconcile and move forward with a government of and by and for the Iraqi people,” Bush said after a White House meeting with Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of Multinational Force Iraq.

Bush thanked Petraeus for his visit to Washington, during which he is scheduled to brief a joint session of Congress on progress in Iraq. Bush noted that “it’s a tough time” in Iraq, but there has been progress. He called Petraeus “a straightforward man who is implementing a very good plan to achieve our strategic objectives.”

“General Petraeus has taken on a very important assignment for the security of our country and for the peace of the world, and that is to help this young Iraqi democracy become stable, evolve into a country that can defend itself and govern itself, and serve as an ally in this war against extremists and radicals who wish to do us harm,” Bush said.

Bush also again emphasized that he will reject any artificial timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq. “An artificial timetable of withdrawal would say to an enemy, ‘Just wait them out,’” he said. “It would say to the Iraqis, ‘Don't do hard things necessary to achieve our objectives;’ and it would be discouraging for our troops.”

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