Top US Senate Democrat to Bush: Iraq war is lost

Thursday, April 19, 2007

WASHINGTON, April 19 (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Thursday he told President George W. Bush the Iraq war was lost and the recent U.S. troop increase had accomplished nothing.

Reid, the Senate's top Democrat, described part of a meeting with Bush at the White House on Wednesday -- the same day bombs killed almost 200 people in Baghdad in the worst day of violence since a U.S.-backed security crackdown was launched there earlier this year.

"This is the message I took to the president," Reid said at a news conference.

"Now I believe myself ... that this war is lost, and that the surge is not accomplishing anything, as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq yesterday," said Reid, of Nevada.

"I know I was like the odd guy out yesterday at the White House, but at least I told him what he needed to hear, not what he wanted to hear," he added.

Suspected Sunni al Qaeda militants detonated a string of bombs in mostly Shi'ite areas of Baghdad on Wednesday. The worst was a truck bombing that killed 140 people in the deadliest single insurgent attack since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

In their meeting, Bush and congressional Democrats failed to settle their fight over funding for the Iraq war, as lawmakers pressed Bush to accept a troop withdrawal timetable.

The White House and its Republican allies call such timetables "surrender dates" and say Bush will reject them. The president accuses Democrats of trying to micromanage the war, and has vowed to veto any bill that includes a pullout date.

Reid said his message for Bush was to recall a turning point in the Vietnam War, in the mid 1960s, when Reid said President Lyndon Johnson decided to send thousands more troops to Vietnam despite knowing the conflict was not winnable.

"The (Iraq) war can only be won diplomatically, politically and economically, and the president needs to come to that realization," Reid said.

Bush is adding 30,000 troops to the war effort, mostly in Baghdad, although not all have arrived. Washington has 146,000 troops in Iraq and more than 3,200 U.S. soldiers have lost their lives there.

Reid said he did not think more U.S. troops could help. "I think it's failed, I say that without any question," he said of the troop increase.



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