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Bush Finds News From Afghanistan, Iraq Encouraging

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 11, 2007 – America and its allies have seen encouraging signs in Afghanistan and Iraq this month, President Bush said today during his weekly radio address to the nation.

Bush said he had a good meeting with Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai at Camp David earlier this week.

"He told me that senior officials and tribal leaders from Afghanistan and Pakistan are meeting to discuss how to deal with the extremists who are targeting both their countries," Bush said. "And he explained why he's confident that his government will prevail against the Taliban remnants who continue to launch attacks throughout his country."

The president quoted Karzai, saying the Taliban poses a threat to Afghan citizens, but not to the national government or other burgeoning institutions.

"In other words, the Taliban fighters can still launch attacks on the innocent, but they cannot stop the march of democracy in Afghanistan," Bush summarized.

Speaking about Iraq, the president said U.S. forces are working to put Iraq's government on the same path as Afghanistan's.

"The surge that General Petraeus and our troops are carrying out is designed to help provide security for the Iraqi people, especially in Baghdad, and aid the rise of an Iraqi government that can protect its people, deliver basic services for all its citizens, and serve as an ally in the war on terror," he said.

A coalition airstrike that killed terrorist Haitham Sabah al Badri is an "encouraging sign," Bush said.

Badri, whose body was positively identified by family members, is believed to have masterminded the February 2006 and June 2007 bombings of the Golden Mosque, which ignited widespread sectarian violence. He also is thought to have been involved in an Aug. 28, 2006, attack on a Samarra checkpoint that killed 29, as well as the June 23, 2006, bombing of the Kirkuk courthouse, military officials said.

This time last year, Badri and other terrorists ruled cities like Ramadi, but many al Qaeda members have since been driven out, Bush said.

"Markets and schools are reopening, and normal life is returning," the president said. "And since January, each month we have killed or captured an average of more than 1,500 al Qaeda terrorists and other enemies of Iraq's elected government."

Bush said the surge of U.S. troops into Iraq has encouraged locals to cooperate with coalition forces, and residents are providing accurate tips that help troops identify terrorists hiding among local populations.

Political progress in Iraq has occurred slower than expected, but the country's lawmakers passed more than 50 legislative pieces during its last session, he said.

"They approved a $41 billion budget, created an electoral commission and military courts," Bush said, "and laid the groundwork for private sector investment in production of gasoline and diesel fuel."

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