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Bush to announce plans for Iraq troop levels

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Sept 11, 2007
President George W. Bush will make a televised speech on his plans for future US troop levels in Iraq at 9:00 pm Thursday (Friday 0100 GMT), the White House announced Tuesday.

In the address, Bush will "address the nation on his proposed way forward in Iraq, obviously responding to the testimony this week" before Congress from the top US General in Iraq David Petraeus, and US ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker.

In long-awaited testimony before Congress Monday and Tuesday, Petraeus provided a generally upbeat assessment of the US military mission in Iraq, saying that overall violence is declining there and Al-Qaeda extremists are on the run, as he argued for a continuation of the "surge" of thousands of US forces.

Petraeus said US forces could gradually be reduced from their current 168,000 strength, to pre-surge levels of around 130,000 by the middle of next year.

Bush has said his decision on the way forward would hinge on Petraeus's testimony, which was met with skepticism this week from antiwar Democrats and skittish Republicans fearful of the political repercussion in next year's national elections unless there is a marked reduction soon in the US military presence in Iraq.

Petraeus and Crocker faced a barrage of complaints this week that Bush's injection of 28,500 troops has failed in its primary aim: to forge political reconciliation that could lead to a more stable society.

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US to build military base on Iraq-Iran border
Baghdad (AFP) Sept 10, 2007
The US military said on Monday that it is to build a base on Iraq's border with Iran to stem what it charges is rampant smuggling of weapons and fighters.

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