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Iraq Transition

Bush: We will stay in Iraq fight

"We stay on until victory:" Bush addresses U.S. troops at Osan air base, South Korea.


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• Interactive: Sectarian divide



BUSAN, South Korea (CNN) -- In a speech to U.S. troops in South Korea, President Bush on Saturday rejected Democratic calls to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq, vowing to "stay in the fight until we have achieved the victory our brave troops have fought for."

"In Washington, there are some who say that the sacrifice is too great, and they urge us to set a date for withdrawal before we have completed our mission," Bush said Saturday. "Those who are in the fight know better."

"So long as I am commander-in-chief, our strategy in Iraq will be driven by the sober judgment of our military commanders on the ground," he said, adding that U.S. troops are "making steady progress" in training Iraqi forces to defend their country.

"As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down," he said.

The president also made the argument that the U.S. operation in Iraq is part of "our work for peace and freedom," which involves "great sacrifice by our troops." (Watch video as president states Iraq case -- 6:56)

"We are helping the Iraqi people erect a working democracy in the heart of the Middle East," Bush said.

Recalling the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which he said launched America's war on terror, he said, "we will not wait to be attacked again. We will not rest or tire until the war on terror is won."

Bush, in the middle of an eight-day trip to Asia, spoke to troops at Osan Air Base in South Korea Saturday afternoon, before leaving for China. Throughout his trip, he was dogged by questions about his Iraq policy, which has become increasingly unpopular back home.

Thursday, a senior Democrat in Congress, Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, a retired Marine colonel, called on Bush to begin withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq, saying he had concluded that their presence was counterproductive because they have become targets for Iraqi insurgents.

GOP lawmakers and the White House fired back at Murtha, with White House spokesman Scott McClellan going so far as to charge that he was "endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic Party."

On Friday evening it was revealed that a top U.S. commander in Iraq had submitted a plan to the Pentagon for withdrawing troops in Iraq, according to a senior defense official.

Gen. George Casey submitted the plan to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. It includes numerous options and recommends that brigades -- usually made up of about 2,000 soldiers each -- begin pulling out of Iraq early next year.(Full story)

The House late Friday overwhelmingly rejected calls for an immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq, a vote engineered by the Republicans that was intended to fail. (Full story)

Deadly bombings

As debate raged in Washington about the U.S. military presence in Iraq, insurgent attacks continued to take a deadly toll.

A suicide car bomb detonated during a funeral ceremony Saturday evening north of Baghdad, killing at least 25 people and wounding 30, Iraqi police in Abu Sayda said. Two car bombings in Baghdad earlier in the killed 12 civilians and left 30 people wounded, police said. (Full story)

Suicide bombings killed scores of people Friday in the eastern Iraqi town of Khanaqin near the Iranian border and in Baghdad.

The Khanaqin carnage occurred when two suicide bombers detonated near or inside two Shiite Muslim mosques, Iraqi police said.

At least 90 people were killed in the attacks, according to hospital officials. The U.S. military said more than 150 Iraqi civilians were killed or wounded in the attack, without giving a breakdown. (Full story)

Leaders issue joint declarations

Bush and 20 other leaders from around the Pacific Rim on Saturday concluded the two-day Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Busan. The leaders posed for their "class photo" wearing South Korean robes of varying colors.

They also issued two declarations -- a main statement emphasizing its goals for the future, which include advancing freer trade; fighting terrorism; preparing for and mitigating a possible outbreak of avian influenza; taking steps to combat high oil prices; and developing increased energy resources. (Full story)

In addition, the group issued a separate statement supporting the World Trade Organization's Doha Development Agenda negotiations, saying they "have an unmatched potential to strengthen the multilateral trading system, promote global economic growth and, in particular, improve economic development opportunities for developing countries ... We, the APEC leaders, are committed to face up to the political challenges associated with the DDA."

Although the topic was not mentioned in either statement, South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun said as the conference closed that leaders had discussed the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and welcomed the "positive steps" made in six-party talks with North Korea, urging "further substantive progress" in those negotiations.

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