Bush: U.S. Must Stay in Iraq After Election
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Under pressure to start bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq after Sunday's election, President Bush said on Saturday that the U.S. mission must keep going to help the new government get its footing.
"As democracy takes hold in Iraq, America's mission there will continue," Bush said in his weekly radio address. "Our military forces, diplomats and civilian personnel will help the newly elected government of Iraq establish security and train Iraqi military police and other forces."
Hours after he spoke, a rocket hit the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad's heavily secured Green Zone, killing two Americans and wounding four.
White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said Bush was told about the attack right after it happened and she reiterated his message that the U.S. mission in Iraq would continue.
While calling Sunday's election a "turning point" in Iraq's history and a milestone in the war on terror, Bush warned it would not bring a halt to violence there.
"Terrorist violence will not end with the election," he said.
The president is under growing pressure at home to show signs of progress in Iraq, with the U.S. death toll having surpassed 1,400 and members of Congress increasingly uneasy about the costs in blood and money.
Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy, a critic of Bush's Iraq policy, said on Thursday that the United States should start to withdraw militarily and politically from Iraq and aim to pull out all troops as early as possible next year.
At least 12,000 U.S. troops should leave at once to send a signal about U.S. intentions to "ease the pervasive sense of occupation," Kennedy said.