President Bush makes stops in Iraq and Australia

by Tracie Potts
NBC News

The White House says before telling Congress about success in Iraq, the President had to see it for himself.

"If the kind of success we are now seeing continues, it will be possible to maintain the same level of security with fewer American forces," said President George Bush.

But President Bush made clear Washington would not determine when troops come home.

"When we begin to draw down troops from Iraq, it will be from a position of strength and success, not from a position of fear and failure," said the President.

He landed in Al-Anbar province, 120 miles from Baghdad, calling it one of the safest places in Iraq -- unlike six months ago.

"It was a free-fire zone. And now Anbar province is one of the more stable parts of Iraq, thanks to the success of this new strategy," said Senator John McCain, (R) Arizona.

After meeting with Iraqi leaders, military commanders, and soldiers, President Bush flew to Australia to iron out differences on global trade.

Back home, the war still dominates the campaign.

"Are you ready to end the war in Iraq and bring our young men and women home?" said Senator Hillary Clinton, (D) New York.

Under pressure to start the pullout this year, President Bush leaves a supportive audience in Iraq for a skeptical one back in Washington.

Iraq's military commanders testify in front of Congress next week. President Bush reports to Congress on September 15th.