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Iraq Transition

Officials: Bush mulls Iraq surge, address likely next week

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NEW: Sources: Bush could send 20,000-40,000 more troops
• NEW: President met with Cabinet Wednesday
• He'll address U.S. on Iraq plan "in the days ahead," Bush writes in newspaper
Talks to happen in next few days with Congress, Iraqi government
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush is likely to send anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 additional troops to Iraq as part of his yet-to-be-announced new Iraq strategy, sources with knowledge of his deliberations told CNN Wednesday.

Bush is expected to address the nation on the new strategy early next week, sources have said.

The president has not yet signed off on any changes, including a possible increase of U.S. troops, according to the sources.

But he is "driving toward a conclusion" and a plan is "taking shape" and "getting more detailed" as the president puts "on the finer points," they said.

National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe denied a report Tuesday that Bush was ready to sign off on increasing troop strength in Iraq by 20,000.

"The president has not made any decisions," the spokesman said.

Asked about the possible troop increase Wednesday, White House spokesman Tony Snow said Bush is "moving toward what he thinks is going to be the appropriate complex of policies to get that done."

"When the president announces the way forward, he will provide answers to a lot of questions that I'm not going to," Snow said. (Watch what the president is doing to prepare his plan Video)

Earlier Wednesday, a U.S. military spokesman said that by year's end, all 11 Iraqi divisions will be operating independently, and that the U.S. military and multinational forces will be present only as a "support mechanism."

"By summertime, we hope to have ensured all Iraqi army decisions are being made by Iraqi ground forces command," Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said at a Baghdad news conference.

Last month, CNN reported that Bush was considering sending in as many as 30,000 to 40,000 troops to escalate the war, increasing troop levels to their highest point in the nearly four-year-old conflict. That would mean there could be as many as 165,000 troops in Iraq.

Other reports indicated the U.S. troop increase would be closer to 20,000, with additional Iraqi forces making up the remainder of the "surge."

A senior administration official involved in the Iraq strategy talks told CNN that a "targeted increase in troop strength" is "an active subject of discussion" and that the president was "significantly along in the process."

As a result, the official added, it should "surprise no one the Pentagon is looking at the mechanics of making that option possible."

Meanwhile, there are several steps Bush is likely to take before announcing any tactical changes in his policy on the Iraq war, administration officials said -- including consultations with Congress and the Iraqi government.

The president met Wednesday with his Cabinet to discuss the new Congress and domestic issues. (Watch how poll respondents feel about the Democrats agenda Video)

Wednesday night, Bush was host at the White House for what a spokesman called "a bicameral, bipartisan reception with approximately a dozen members of Congress and their spouses."

Administration officials told CNN that Democratic and Republican leadership of the House and Senate were invited to the reception.

During the party, Bush planned to hold "informal discussions about the year ahead," including his deliberations on Iraq.

However, a senior administration official noted the reception is more of a "social occasion."

The White House will place courtesy calls to members of Congress when Bush comes up with his final Iraq plan, the official said.

Those calls will go out "within a couple of days" before Bush addresses the nation.

Bush has not yet briefed Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on his plan, but is expected to do so before the address.

Administration officials have stressed, however, that they remain in "constant" contact with Iraqi officials.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux contributed to this report.

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