INTERNATIONAL

Bush seeking to pacify Americans?

WASHINGTON SEPT. 6. Faced with a growing mess inside Iraq and an increasingly sceptical and restless domestic audience, the President, George W. Bush, is planning a major address to the nation on Sunday discussing the war on terrorism and on his efforts to stabilise Iraq. Prior to his address,senior administration officials are working the Sunday talk shows setting the stage for the Commander-in-Chief to make his presentation.

"During August, the President spent a considerable amount of time talking to his national security team and military leaders about our ongoing efforts on the war on terrorism and making assessments about our needs", the White House Spokesman said on Friday. Mr. Bush's address is expected to last about 15 minutes.

The President addressed the nation on Iraq when military operations began on March 19;and again after landing on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, on May 1 and declared that "major combat operations in Iraq have ended." As of Friday, 287 Americans have died in Iraq, 149 of them since the announcement of the end of major combat operations.

The Presidential address comes at a time when the new proposed American draft on a resolution in Iraq at the Security Council appears to be floundering with major nations such as France, Russia and Germany demanding far-reaching changes in its proposals.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, is suggesting a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Permanent Five in Europe to "explore a common ground and the way forward." The reason why Mr. Bush is talking to the nation tomorrow has to do with many other things, the first and foremost being a growing apprehension — from the Congress and the general public — that the U.S. is just drifting in Iraq with serious consequences; and that the administration appears to have realised neither the depth nor the fuller implications of its adventure in Iraq. That apart, there is the anger on Capitol Hill that the administration has not been quite forthcoming on what it entails for American commitment — in dollars and cents.

After trying a tight-lipped policy on costs, the administration is said to be in the final stages of asking the Congress for a supplemental in the range of between $ 65 billions and $ 70 billions for military operations and reconstruction efforts. This is in addition to the $ 80 billions that Capitol Hill appropriated recently.

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