Bush rejects troop-withdrawal after Iraq trip
Bush also refused to give a timetable or benchmark for success that would allow troops to come home.Updated: Jun 15, 2006 08:24 IST
President George W Bush, just back from Iraq, dismissed calls for a US withdrawal as election-year politics and refused to give a timetable or benchmark for success that would allow troops to come home.
"It's bad policy," Bush said in a Rose Garden news conference yesterday, about six hours after he returned from Iraq. "I know it may sound good politically. It will endanger our country to pull out of Iraq before we accomplish the mission."
The news conference was arranged to capitalize on Bush's stealthy 5 1/2-hour trip to Baghdad Tuesday. The visit marked his first meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and the president said he was impressed with the new leader's plans and character. "I sense something different happening in Iraq," Bush said.
He defended the decision not to tell the prime minister that the US president was in his country until five minutes before they met and denied that it was because of any concern about al-Maliki's inner circle.
"I'm a high-value target for some," Bush said. "I think if there was ample notification that I was coming, perhaps it would have given somebody a chance to plan, and we just didn't want to take that risk."
Bush said he wanted to see a reduction in the deadly violence in Iraq but would not say how much it must drop before troops can begin to withdraw. He offered other ways of measuring progress in Iraq - an increase in oil production or more electricity delivered to cool sweltering homes or growing numbers of Iraqi military units able to handle the fight.
First Published: Jun 15, 2006 08:24 IST