GRAPEVINE (Texas), Aug 4: President George W. Bush, following the deadliest roadside bomb attack on US forces in Iraq, said on Wednesday the best way to honour the dead was to fight the insurgents and train Iraqi troops, and he rejected any early US pullout.

“We’re at war. We’re facing an enemy that is ruthless. If we put out a (pullout) timetable, the enemy would adjust their tactics,” he said in a speech in Grapevine, a Dallas suburb. Bush spoke on the first day of a 33-day break from Washington, to be spent mostly on vacation at his Texas ranch, his 51st visit there since taking office in 2001.

Fresh from legislative victories on energy and trade, Bush called on lawmakers to work on his other priorities when they return from an August recess, citing his Supreme Court nominee, John Roberts, immigration legislation and Social Security reform. He said Roberts needed to be confirmed by the Senate before the Supreme Court reconvenes on Oct 3.

“He has got a good way about him, a good modest fellow who is plenty bright,” Bush said. He insisted progress was being made in Iraq despite the grim news that 21 Marines had been killed in three days in Iraq, including 14 on Wednesday in the deadliest roadside bomb attack since the war began.

Those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said, “have died in a noble cause and a selfless cause.”

“Their families can know that American citizens pray for them. And the families can know that we will honour their loved one’s sacrifice by completing the mission, by laying the foundations for peace for generations to come,” Bush said in remarks to the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Bush said he had a “strategy for success in Iraq” by hunting down insurgents, training Iraqis to provide for their own security and helping Iraqi political leaders write a constitution and prepare for elections.

Some members of Congress have been pressing for a date for a US pullout, and Pentagon officials have talked about the possibility of a reduction in forces in Iraq by next spring or summer.—Reuters

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