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Bush Says Iraq Violence a 'Serious Concern'


President Bush says if he did not think the war in Iraq was vital to American security, he would bring home the troops immediately.

Mr. Bush made the comment Wednesday, during a news conference at the White House. He said the rise in violence in Iraq over the past month has been a serious concern to him and to the American people.

The president noted that 93 U.S. service members and 300 Iraqi security personnel have been killed in Iraq this month, and he acknowledged that kidnappings and violent attacks there remain a serious problem. October has been the deadliest month for U.S. forces in Iraq so far this year.

Mr. Bush said he would send more troops to Iraq if the commanders in charge requested them. He also said U.S. forces will not leave until the Iraqi government can sustain, defend and stand as an ally in the war on terror.

Asked about Iran and Syria, the president said the world expects them to help with Iraq. He also called on Iran to help the new Lebanese democracy succeed, and he warned Syria against undermining it.

He said there is a better way forward for Iran than nuclear weapons, and he warned that Iran's people will be isolated if Tehran continues its fuel enrichment activities.

Referring to North Korea's recent nuclear test, Mr. Bush said North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is testing the will of the five countries negotiating with Pyongyang on disarmament. The president said the U.S. goal is to remind its partners (Russia, Japan, South Korea and China) that they can achieve that objective by working together.

This news conference comes less than two weeks before U.S. congressional elections.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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