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Bush Firm on War Policy Until September Report on Progress by Iraqis

This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

On Thursday, the Bush administration reported mixed results in Iraq since the recent addition of thirty thousand American troops. The report is based on eighteen goals known as benchmarks. Congress established them two months ago to measure the progress of the Iraqi government in political, security and economic areas.

The report says the Iraqis are making satisfactory progress in eight areas and unsatisfactory progress in eight others. Ratings in two areas are mixed.

One of the areas rated satisfactory was forming a committee to examine the Iraqi constitution. Another was providing about ten thousand Iraqi troops to help bring security to Baghdad.

But the report says there has been little progress on important political issues such as sharing oil resources and political compromise.

President Bush is urging Americans to give his war policy more time. He told a White House news conference: "I believe we can succeed in Iraq." He said he believes that security progress is being made that will enable the political process to succeed, as well.

He ordered the surge deployment in January. He noted that the final troops arrived a little less than a month ago.

Mister Bush says he will wait for a full report in September to see if his policy needs to be changed. The top American general in Iraq and the ambassador to Baghdad will return to Washington to give that report.

But Thursday's progress report immediately incited more debate over the war. The Democrats who control the House of Representatives acted quickly. Thursday night, the House approved a measure that calls for the withdrawal of most American combat forces by April of next year.

Four Republicans supported the bill and ten Democrats opposed it.

President Bush says he will veto any attempt by Congress to direct the war. In May he vetoed a spending bill passed by the House and Senate that linked continued money for the war to a withdrawal plan. He later signed a compromise bill. The money came with a condition to demonstrate by July fifteenth, and again in September, that the Iraqis are making progress on the benchmarks.

Iraqi officials are calling on American lawmakers to avoid withdrawing troops too soon. A government spokesman told VOA that would be, in his words, a great gift to the terrorists. But he said Iraqi security forces should be built up enough in two thousand eight that "good numbers" of American troops could be withdrawn.

A new public opinion study found that more than seventy percent of Americans support removing almost all American troops from Iraq by April. Mister Bush's approval rating reached a new low, twenty-nine percent, in that USA Today/Gallup Poll. His rating held at thirty-three percent in the latest Associated Press-Ipsos poll. But public approval of Congress fell to twenty-four percent.

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake. I’m Steve Ember.