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Pelosi slams Bush over Iraqi progress

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ridiculed President Bush yesterday for saying in his State of the Union speech Monday night that the United States is winning the war in Iraq.

The California Democrat also expressed doubts that political reconciliation in the war-torn country had been advanced by laws to share oil wealth among the country's sectarian groups and to allow members of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party to return to government jobs.

"The president's comments last night in his speech were yet again another example of the lack of reality that he brings to this discussion," Mrs. Pelosi told reporters on Capitol Hill. "For a president of the United States to come before the Congress nearly five years after this war [began] and deem it a success is just hard to understand."

In the speech, Mr. Bush said, "Our enemies in Iraq have been hit hard. They are not yet defeated, and we can still expect tough fighting ahead."

The president said U.S. troops would build on the gains made last year and transition this year to the next phase of the strategy. He said troops would return home — "return on success" — as the Iraqi military assumes a greater role.

The speaker said she saluted U.S. troops and acknowledged that the surge strategy implemented last year dramatically reduced violence in Iraq.

But she said the surge did not provide "a zone of calm and security" for the Iraqi government to forge political reconciliation.

"And again, I'll say what [General David H. Petraeus] said. The biggest obstacle to reconciliation in Iraq is not the Sunni insurgents. It's not the Iranian militants. It's not the al Qaeda terrorists. It is the government of Iraq," she said. "Our troops have made an enormous sacrifice. They deserve better than the actions taken by the Iraqi government."

Asked whether laws enacted to share oil and normalize the Ba'ath Party showed progress from the Iraqi government, Mrs. Pelosi replied, "No. No, no, no."

The Democrat-led Congress last year repeatedly attempted and failed to force a U.S. pullout from Iraq, including attaching war spending to troop-withdrawal timetables, but always stopping short of cutting off the money.

The Democrats twice backed down from standoffs with the White House over war spending and conceded to Mr. Bush's demands for funds with no strings attached rather than face criticism for not supporting troops in the field.

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