Suspend nuclear programme: Bush to Iran

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Washington, Jan 29: US President George W Bush called on Iran to verifiably suspend its nuclear enrichment, reveal its nuclear intentions, past nuclear actions, and stop oppression at home and support for terrorism abroad.

In his final State of the Union Address to Congress last night, President Bush asserted that the United States would confront threats to US forces, stand by its allies and defend its vital interests in the Persian Gulf. Mr Bush said, ''Al-Qaeda is on the run and tough fighting can be expected in Iraq this year, but that terrorists will be defeated.'' ''Since 9/11, we have taken the fight to these terrorists and extremists. We will stay on the offensive, we will keep up the pressure, and we will deliver justice to our enemies,'' he said.

The US President said great progress had been made in Iraq, but the enemy is still dangerous, and more work remains.

Nevertheless, the American and Iraqi forces have achieved results few of us could have imagined just one year ago, he said.

Talking about the progress in Iraq, he said US troops are shifting from leading operations in Iraq, to partnering with Iraqi forces, to eventually a protective overwatch mission.

Mr Bush, however, made no commitment about withdrawing additional troops from Iraq, saying top US General there Gen David Patraeus has warned that pulling Americans out too quickly could undermine Iraqi forces, allow Al-Qaeda to regroup and trigger an increase in violence.

There are 158,000 US troops in Iraq, a number that is expected to drop to 135,000 by July. There are 28,000 in Afghanistan, the highest number of the war, which began there in October 2001.

President Bush bluntly acknowledged the slowing down of US economy, marked by rising food and gas prices, increasing unemployment and turmoil in housing and financial markets.

He urged Congress to urgently approve his 150 billion dollar plan to avert economic recession. The plan worked out with Congressional leaders seeks to deal with the situation through tax rebates for families and incentives for businesses to invest in new plants and equipment.

''We have unfinished business before us, and the American people expect us to get it done,'' President Bush said.

He also wanted Congress to extend his tax cuts, due to expire in 2010, and said allowing them to lapse would mean higher tax bills for 116 million American taxpayers.


UNI

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