President Bush says the Iraq regional conference held Saturday in Baghdad was positive, but he is waiting to see if participants turn their words into action. VOA's Paula Wolfson reports the president spoke in Bogota, Colombia at the midway point of his Latin American tour.
The president's first public comments on the Baghdad meeting came at a press conference with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.
"People are now committed publicly to helping Iraq which was I thought very positive,"said President Bush. "I think the other benefit from the conference is the [Iraqi] government gained some confidence."
President Bush said he thought some momentum had been created, as participants prepare for a second, ministerial-level gathering. He said the head of the U.S. delegation for those talks will be Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
The president was asked about pledges made in Baghdad by Iran and Syria to help halt the violence plaguing Iraq. He said their words are welcome, but he wants to see action.
"Words are easy to say in politics and international diplomacy," he said. "If they really want to help stabilize Iraq there are things for them to do, such as cutting off weapons flows and/or the flow of suicide bombers into Iraq."
In January, Mr. Bush announced he would send an additional 21,500 U.S. troops to Iraq to help quell the violence in Baghdad and al-Anbar province. This weekend, he announced he would send 4,700 more. When asked if the increases would continue, the president stressed this latest deployment involves units that provide support services to troops in the field
"Those combat troops are going to need, you know, some support, and that's what the American people are seeing in terms of Iraq - the support troops necessary to help the reinforcements do their job," noted President Bush.
The president also used the occasion to urge the U.S. Congress to approve his funding request for the war with no conditions attached. He asked the legislature on Friday for just over $3 billion to pay for the extra deployments he has ordered so far this year. That money is on top of the $93.4-billion war budget currently under debate.
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