Bush optimistic that Iraqi leaders right to turn corner on security problems

Monday, February 5th 2007, 10:45 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush said Monday that anxiety about security in Baghdad is a not a bad thing because it means the Iraqi government understands it has the responsibility to protect its people.

``I appreciate the fact that the Iraqi government is anxious to get security inside the capital of their country _ good sign,'' Bush said after meeting with his Cabinet in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.

``It's a good sign that there's a sense of concern and anxiety,'' the president added. ``It means the government understands that it has a responsibility to protect their people. And we want to help them.''

Bush said the build-up of U.S. troops in Iraq is aimed at giving the Iraqi government a window of time to make strides toward unity and peace.

``We'd like to do it as quickly as possible,'' he said. ``The success of that plan is going to depend upon the capacity and willingness of the Iraqis to do hard work. We want to help them do that work.''

Bush said the fact that Iraqi government officials are saying that it's time to implement the plan is a good sign.

`` It shows that they understand that now is the time to do the things necessary to protect their people,'' he said.

Bush also rejected any notion that his new budget plan, released Monday, amounts to a timeline for the end of the war.

His budget calls for $145 billion in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2008, down from the proposed $170 billion this year. It assumes that war spending will be down to $50 billion by 2009 _ and zero beyond that.

``There will be no timetable set,'' Bush said. He said that would send the wrong signal to the enemy, a struggling democracy and the troops fighting there.

Bush sent a $2.90 trillion spending plan to the Democratic-controlled Congress, proposing a big increase in military spending, including billions more to fight the war in Iraq, while squeezing the rest of government to meet his goal of eliminating the deficit in five years.

``Our priority is to protect the American people. And our priority is to make sure that our troops have what it takes to do their job,'' Bush said.