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Bush to mark invasion of Iraq with speech

President to emphasize international effort


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ON CNN TV
Stay with CNN for ongoing updates and analysis of reactions to President Bush's speech marking the anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush will mark the one-year anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq with a high-profile speech on Friday touting the coalition's accomplishments there before broadening into a review of global progress in the war against terror, administration officials said.

"He'll put the war on terrorism in context and talk about its scope," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters Thursday.

Bush will deliver the daytime speech in the East Room before an audience that will include many diplomats, underscoring the administration's point that the war in Iraq and its ongoing reconstruction is an international effort.

"There are going to be many, many countries represented ... in the East Room," McClellan said. The president will emphasize the international nature of the war on terrorism, he said, adding that the president will talk about how many countries are participating in many different ways.

Democrats charge Bush alienated many long-standing allies in the buildup to the war and has failed to convince others to share the cost of rebuilding and security there, leaving American taxpayers with the bulk of the growing bill.

One official said Bush will say that coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan have ended two of the most violent and dangerous regimes on Earth, liberating more than 50 million people.

Bush appeared to give something of a preview of his speech Thursday when he visited Fort Campbell, Kentucky, thanking troops there for their service and vowing to stay committed to rebuilding Iraq and defeating terrorism.

"There is no safety for any nation in a world that lives at the mercy of gangsters and mass murderers," Bush told the troops. "Eventually, there's no place to hide from the planted bombs or the far worse weapons the terrorists seek.

"For the civilized world, there's only one path to safety. We will stay united, and we will fight until this enemy is broken."

The president will mention recent bombings, including last week's attack on commuter trains in Madrid, Spain, McClellan said, as "grim" reminders of the ongoing war.

"The stakes are high. The civilized world is at war with terrorists," McClellan said.

Bush will link the Iraq conflict to recent successes limiting the spread of weapons of mass destruction, one official added.

The question of WMD has proved to be a tricky one for the administration because it had argued repeatedly before the war that Saddam Hussein possessed such weapons, but none have been found since his regime was toppled.

The president will cite as positive developments progress in talks with North Korea, Libya's abandonment of its nuclear weapons program, the confession of Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan about selling nuclear technology, and Iran's decision to allow international inspectors back into the country, the official said.

Regarding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the official said Bush will echo words heard in recent speeches, arguing that his administration -- as well as Congress, the Clinton administration and the United Nations -- looked at the intelligence information on Iraq and saw a threat.

Bush made that very point in his speech Thursday.

"I had a choice to make: either to take the word of a madman or take such threats seriously and defend America. Faced with that choice, I will defend America every time," Bush declared.

The president will also talk about "significant advances" in homeland security made over the past year, the official added.

Later Friday, Bush and first lady Laura Bush will visit privately with soldiers and their families at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. It will mark their third visit in six months to the Bethesda, Maryland, facility.

CNN's Kathleen Koch contributed to this report.


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