Armed Forces International News - January 2008

Bush: Hope Flowing Back to Iraq After US Troop Surge

Posted by Paul Fiddian on 12/01/2008 - 12:02:04

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George W. Bush, the US President, has stated that hope is now on its way back to Iraq after the surge of US troops ordered early in 2007.

20,000 US Troop Pullback Plan on Schedule

During a visit made to a military base in Kuwait, President Bush affirmed that the 20,000-strong US troop pullback planned to be complete by July was running to schedule, but it had not yet been decided whether further numbers would be withdrawn.

The President's visit took place as part of a wider, current tour of the Gulf: a move, say correspondents, designed to elicit backing from some of the most prominent leaders in the area for his initiative to bring peace to the Middle East.

At the base, President Bush met with Ryan Crocker and General David Patraeus - the US Ambassador in Iraq, and the Commander of US forces in Iraq, respectively.

As these words were typed, the two figures were understood to be briefing Mr Bush on the improvements in Iraq's security.

Bush: US Troop Surge Has Brought Change to Iraq

Mr Bush referred to the US troop surge in describing the contemporary state of Iraq, saying: "The new way forward I announced a year ago changed our approach in fundamental ways."

He added: "Iraq is now a different place from one year ago. We must do all we can to ensure that 2008 will bring even greater progress."

20,000 US troops, he said, will have departed Iraq by mid 2008. Any further reductions in the US force deployed there would depend on ground conditions - a decision General Patraeus would be tasked with making.

Among the other countries on President Bush's agenda during this tour are the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. His hope is to encourage support for the efforts of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority President currently negotiating with Israel

Source - Armed Forces International's Middle East Correspondent

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