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Bush to Outline Second Term Goals During State of Union Address - 2005-02-02


President Bush delivers his State of the Union address to Congress just a few hours from now (at 0200 UTC, 9 p.m. EST).

The White House says the speech will provide more details about goals Mr. Bush outlined in his recent inaugural address.

According to excerpts released by the White House, Mr. Bush will say that the United States plans to "encourage a higher standard of freedom" in the Middle East as it continues to fight the U.S.-led war on terrorism.

He will say the goal of a democratic Palestinian state living peacefully next to Israel is "within reach."

And he will say that Sunday's elections in Iraq opened up a new phase to U.S. efforts there, one in which U.S. forces will increasingly focus on making Iraqi security forces more capable.

On the domestic front, the president will challenge Congress to, in his words, "strengthen and save" the Social Security retirement program. He will say the program is headed toward bankruptcy unless changed.

Mr. Bush is not expected to announce a timetable for withdrawing American troops from Iraq. Some lawmakers have called on the president to outline an exit strategy.

Opposition Democratic Party leaders will deliver a response to the president shortly after his address.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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