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Agence France Presse

Bush to Ask Congress for Extra $50 Bln for Iraq: Report

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WASHINGTON  - US President George W. Bush plans to ask Congress for an extra 50 billion dollars for Iraq following a highly anticipated report on progress in the war-torn country next month, US media reported Wednesday.

The request would seek to pay for the current troop "surge" strategy and is a sign that Bush anticipates prevailing in a showdown with the Democratic-controlled Congress which has been pushing for troop withdrawal, the Washington Post said. 0829 05

If approved, the bid would bring US spending on the Iraq war to more than three billion dollars per week.

The formal request is to be delivered following Army General David Petraeus' and Ambassador Ryan Crocker's report to Congress on September 15 about military and political developments in Iraq particularly since the new strategy took effect.

The request "is being prepared now in the belief that Congress will be unlikely to balk so soon after hearing the two officials argue that there are promising developments in Iraq but that they need more time to solidify the progress they have made," the newspaper said, citing an unnamed congressional aide.

In a speeches to military veterans this week, Bush has touted signs of progress in Iraq and the need for a sustained military offensive like the one announced earlier this year which sent 30,000 extra troops to Iraq, bringing the total number of troops to around 160,000.

"There are unmistakable signs that our strategy is achieving the objectives we set out," Bush said on Tuesday. "The momentum is now on our side."

The 50 billion dollars would be in addition to the 460 billion dollars in the fiscal 2008 defense budget and 147 billion dollars in a pending supplemental bill to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"We haven't seen the details, but we'll give it the scrutiny it deserves," said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Copyright © AFP 2007

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