2007-09-19 00:32:13 Xinhua
U.S. President George W. Bush appealed for support for his step-by-step troop withdrawal plan from Iraq when he met with Iraq war veterans and their families on Tuesday.
President Bush, along with his wife Laura Bush and several senior military officials, held a morning reception for about 850 members of military support organizations at the South Lawn.
"We recognize that if we were to retreat from the Middle East, the enemy would not be content to remain where they are, but they would follow us here," he said in a speech. "And we recognize that the best way to protect our homeland is to defeat an enemy overseas so we do not have to face them here on the streets of America."
Outlined in his speech addressed to the nation last week, Bush plans to retreat about 57,000 troops from Iraq by Christmas and further withdraw about 21,500 by next July, but leaving at least 130,000 in Iraq through the middle of 2008 or longer.
"I ask the United States Congress to support the troop levels and the strategies I have embraced," Bush told the groups including Families United for Our troops and Their Mission, and the American Legion.
The plan, however, is still short of satisfying Democrats and most public. Demanding much larger size of reduction, Democratic lawmakers are preparing to submit another defense bill later this week to push in Congress for a more significant withdrawal of troops from Iraq.