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Bush halts troop withdrawals

President Bush announced on Thursday that the senior commander in Iraq may have "all the time he needs" before reducing the number of troops serving there, the New York Times reported.

Bush said that reducing troops further would be "catastrophic" to national interests and that the number of troops in Iraq would remain the same at least through the end of his presidency.

Congress Democrats, however, sharply disagreed with Bush's plans. Senator Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) said the president "refuses to face reality."

Calling last year's "surge" a success, Bush highlighted the importance of staying in Iraq in order to continue the broader struggle against Muslim extremism.

Bush also noted that the Iraqi government is increasingly taking matters into its own hands, paying for reconstruction and security more and more with its own revenues.

In accordance with recommendations from Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the length of a tour for American soldiers will be shortened from 15 months to 12 months.

Putting the war in a historical context, Bush said the war spending is 4 percent of the gross national product, as opposed to 13 percent under Presidents Truman and Eisenhower.

“And while this war is difficult,? he said, “it is not endless.?