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Bush again emphasizes Iraq gains

WASHINGTON -- For the fourth week in a row, President Bush devoted his weekly radio address to Iraq, saying yesterday that billions in new aid from other countries will provide momentum for rebuilding the nation.

"This growing financial support will allow us to build on the success of the broad military coalition already serving in Iraq," Bush said.

Nations from Japan to Saudi Arabia pledged $13 billion in new aid on top of more than $20 billion from the United States.

"In Madrid, representatives of more than 70 nations and international bodies -- including the World Bank, UNICEF, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference -- gathered to discuss the future needs of Iraq, and the ways in which other countries can help," Bush said. "And these nations and international organizations pledged billions of dollars to aid the reconstruction of Iraq."

But the figure fell well short of the estimated $56 billion needed to rebuild the country, and much came in the form of loans that could saddle Iraq with new debts.

Bush typically uses his weekly radio address to emphasize a theme the White House is promoting.

In August, for instance, the broadcasts covered the economy twice, Iraq, wildfire prevention, and the war on terrorism.

By using the forum for four straight addresses on Iraq, Bush showed the depth of his concern over public opinion on Iraq.

Each of the last four radio addresses has included lengthy passages on progress in Iraq, sections meant to counter the waves of bad news from the country. The radio address is broadcast in its entirety by stations across the country, allowing Bush to largely bypass the news media "filter" he complains unfairly emphasizes bad news.

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