Bush speech to focus on economy

Iraq also to figure prominently in US president's final state of the union address.

    Bush is expected to say that a $150bn stimulus package will prevent a recession [EPA file photo]

    Speech audience

     

    Both Democratic frontrunners for the presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, will be present at the speech.

     

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    However, John McCain, one of the Republican presidential candidates facing a crucial primary contest in the southern state of Florida on Tuesday, will reportedly not be attending.

     

    Bush said on Saturday that he would not use the address as a simple reflection of his time in office.

     

    "I will report that over the last seven years, we've made great progress on important issues at home and abroad. I will also report that we have unfinished business before us, and we must work together," he said.

     

    Peace opportunities

     

    Bush told the USA Today daily last week that "you

    've got Iraq, Iran, Middle Eastern peace opportunities, North Korea, Sudan, Burma. This is a world that is full of opportunities to spread freedom and hope and opportunity".

     

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    Awakening councils' role in Iraq's security

    His speech will also refer to the efforts of the US troop escalation in Iraq last year, when 30,000 additional US forces were deployed in the country, mainly in the capital, Baghdad, to combat violence.

     

    Despite a corresponding drop in violence, other crucial aspects of the policy - national reconciliation in Iraq and Iraqi security forces taking over security by November 2007 - have not been achieved.

     

    On the domestic front, Bush is also expected to urge the support of a temporary eavesdropping bill which expires on Friday, call for various tax cuts to be made permanent, and renew an education reform law.

     

    Controversial statements

    Bush has previously used the state of the union address to lay out foreign policy for the following year.

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    In 2007 Bush told congress that the US "must not fail in Iraq", warning that the consequences would be "grievous and far reaching".

    In 2002 Bush used the speech to refer to Iran, Iraq and North Korea as part of an "axis of evil" by seeking weapons of mass destruction.

    The US invaded Iraq a year later.

    However, Bush's most controversial state of the union address was in 2003.

    He alleged that Britain had uncovered evidence the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein had attempted to buy uranium from Africa for its weapons programme.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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