Iraqis to control more territory by 2007: Bush
The American President, however, did not give any hint about future US troop levels in Iraq.india Updated: Mar 11, 2006 23:08 IST
Under pressure at home to reduce the number of troops in Iraq, US President George W Bush said on Saturday that he wants Iraqi forces to control more territory by the end of this year.
"The task is of defeating the terrorists and training Iraqi security forces so they can take the lead in the fight and defend their own democracy...The goal is to have the Iraqis control more territory than the coalition forces by the end of this year," Bush said in his weekly radio address made ahead of the third anniversary of the attack on Iraq.
"As Iraqis assume responsibility over more territory, this frees American and coalition forces to concentrate on hunting down high-value targets like the terrorist (Abu Musab al-Zarqaw) and his associates," Bush said.
The American President, however, did not give any hint about future US troop levels in Iraq.
"Amid the daily news of car bombs and kidnappings and brutal killings, I can understand why many of our fellow citizens are now wondering if the entire mission was worth it," Bush admitted but added that "I strongly believe our country is better off with Saddam Hussein out of power."
"After the liberation of the Iraqi people, al-Qaida and their affiliates have made Iraq the central front on the war on terror" Bush said, asserting that by helping Iraqi people build a free and representative government "we will deny the terrorists a safe haven to plan attacks against America."
With dwindling numbers at the polls on how he has handled the situation or if he even has an exit strategy, the President will be making a comeback attempt next week by giving three speeches on Iraq.
The President said the series of speeches he intended to give on Iraq will update the American people on the strategy for victory, the progress being made, the lessons learned from the experiences and how America is trying to fix things that have not worked. The first speech on Monday will focus on the security element of American strategy, Bush said.
First Published: Mar 11, 2006 23:08 IST