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Bush To Ask Congress For Nearly $75 Billion For Iraq War - 2003-03-25


President Bush will meet Wednesday with British Prime Minister Tony Blair to discuss the fighting in Iraq. The president will ask Congress today (Tuesday) for about 75 billion dollars to pay for the war and relief and reconstruction efforts.

President Bush goes to the Pentagon Tuesday for a briefing on the war from senior defense officials and a speech to military staff where he will ask Congress to approve more money to pay for the war and relief efforts.

A senior administration official says the president will discus the steady advance of U.S. forces toward Baghdad and again make the case that the world will be safer from terrorist attack if Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is overthrown and his forces disarmed.

The president Monday briefed members of Congress on his request for more money to pay for the war and efforts to rebuild Iraq and help feed the Iraqi people. A senior administration official says those efforts will also be funded by frozen Iraqi assets and profits from Iraqi oil sales.

President Bush Wednesday speaks to U.S. troops in the state of Florida, before meeting with Prime Minister Blair at the presidential retreat at Camp David Wednesday evening and Thursday.

In the mean time, VOA's Michael Drudge reports from London regarding British Prime Minister Tony Blair's meeting with President Bush at Camp David Wednesday to discuss the Iraq war and post-war diplomacy.

Mr. Blair says the military drive toward Baghdad is of vital strategic importance. Prime Minister Blair told a London news conference the U.S.-led advance toward Baghdad is going as planned.

MR. Blair said,"The purpose is to remove the regime. To do that is important that we go to Baghdad. Coalition forces are now some 50-60 miles (80-95 kilometers) south of Baghdad. … All the way through, the important thing has been to push on for Baghdad, having secured both the oil installations in the south and making sure that in the west of the country, we do not allow Saddam to use that as a base for external aggression, and in the north we keep the situation as calm as possible."

Mr. Blair said he will leave London on Wednesday for talks with President Bush at the Camp David retreat outside Washington. Mr. Blair also plans to meet Thursday with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan in New York.

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