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Bush not considering troop drawdown

July 10, 2007 at 3:17 PM

CLEVELAND, July 10 (UPI) -- U.S. President George Bush Tuesday begged the nation to give the strategy in Iraq a chance to be fully implemented before deciding whether it has failed.

In a speech to the Greater Cleveland Partnership, Bush said he seriously considered whether to allow the sectarian violence in Iraq to burn itself out in Baghdad, but concluded it would just spread the chaos throughout the country if U.S. troops did not step in and stop it.

"I believe that it's in this nation's interests to give the commander a chance to fully implement his operations and I believe Congress ought to wait for Gen. (David) Patraeus to come back and give us assessment of the strategy that he's putting in place before they make any decisions," Bush said. "That's what the American people expect. They expect for military people to come back and tell us how the military operations are going, and that's the way I'm going to play it as the commander in chief."

Bush said he's willing to discuss options but enough troops must be on the ground "to guard the territorial integrity of that country, enough troops there to make sure that al-Qaida doesn't gain safe haven from which to be able to launch further attacks against the United States of America, enough troops to be embedded and to help train the Iraqis to do their job."

Bush's comments came amid reports the White House is considering a policy shift in light of an assessment Iraq will not meet the benchmarks set forth by the administration.

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