WASHINGTON, July 14: US President George W. Bush, who is facing increased pressure from Congress to withdraw troops from Iraq, conceded on Saturday that his old approach to the war was wrong.

“It became clear that our approach in Iraq was not working,” he acknowledged in his weekly radio address. “So … in January I announced a new way forward.”

The new policy, he said, included sending reinforcements to help the Iraqis protect their people, improve their security forces and advance the difficult process of reconciliation at both the national and local levels.

The new approach, he said, was already working and sought more time for success in Iraq.

But the lawmakers are unwilling to give him more time. On Friday evening, Republican legislators put forth a new proposal for forcing the White House to start redeploying troops by the end of the year.

Senators John W. Warner and Richard G. Lugar — former committee chairmen and authorities on foreign and military affairs — urged President Bush to shift troops away from a combat role.

“We want to avoid a drift in Iraq policy,” said Senator Lugar, who until last month was one of the key supporters of President Bush’s Iraq policy on Capitol Hill. His public rebuke last month to Mr Bush’s conduct of the war set the stage for more desertions from the Republican Party over Iraq.

And on Thursday, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives voted 223-201 for a resolution calling for the withdrawal of most US combat forces from Iraq by April 1 next year. Unlike the House resolution, the Republican proposal does not mandate a troop withdrawal.

Most Republicans — even those critical of the troop build-up — want to wait till Sept 15 when the administration will submit a detailed report on Mr Bush’s “new way forward” strategy.

Without Republican support, Democrats in the Senate cannot pass such a measure.

The Warner-Lugar proposal would compel the president to present Congress with a plan before Oct 16 to “transition US combat forces from policing the civil strife or sectarian violence in Iraq,” and to “refocus” military operations in Iraq on guarding the borders, mounting counterterrorism operations, protecting US personnel and training Iraqis.

The two senators recommend that the plan be able to be implemented by the end of the year.

The proposal would need Democratic support to be attached to a defence spending bill now being debated in the Senate.

But the Democrats seem reluctant to give the president as much leeway as the two Republican senators would allow in their measure.

Also on Friday, evidence emerged that military officials already were planning to begin redeploying next year. In a Pentagon briefing with reporters, Army Maj-Gen Benjamin R. “Randy” Mixon, commander of US forces in northern Iraq, said he had recommended that US forces in his area begin to draw down in 2008 — a process that could take a year to 18 months to complete.

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