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Bush acknowledges setbacks in Iraq
December 13, 2005 09:26 IST
United States President George W Bush on Monday acknowledged that as many as 30,000 Iraqis may have died since the war began, but insisted American forces will not leave Iraq before achieving total victory over insurgency in the country.
Probably acknowledging setbacks in Iraq for the first time, Bush predicted violence will not end with parliamentary polls on Thursday and that a lot of work remained to be done.
"No nation in history has made the transition to a free society without facing challenges, setbacks and false starts," Bush said at the World Affairs Council in Philadelphia, in what has been interpreted as comments more realistic than what he has been saying in the past.
The White House quickly sought to clarify that Bush was merely putting out statistics cited in the media and elsewhere and that his figures were not a government tally.
Some independent estimates have placed the toll as high as 100,000.
"This week's elections won't be perfect, and a successful vote is not the end of the process. Iraqis still have more difficult work ahead," Bush said.
"These enemies aren't going to give up because of a successful election."
Asked if the threat of terrorism on US soil had been reduced significantly since the invasion of Iraq, Bush said: "I think it's been reduced. I don't think we're safe."
"What will really give me confidence to say that we're safe is when I can tell the American people we've got the capacity to know exactly where the enemy is moving," he said.