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Bush Says Iraq Pullout Would Lead To Mistrust --> U.S. President George W. Bush (file photo) (CTK) 19 December 2005 -- President George W. Bush has again rejected calls for a quick U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, saying a pullout now would signal that the United States cannot be trusted and would hand the country over to Iraqi insurgents.

"We would undermine the morale of our troops -- by betraying the cause for which they have sacrificed," Bush said. "We would cause the tyrants in the Middle East to laugh at our failed resolve, and tighten their repressive grip. We would hand Iraq over to enemies who have pledged to attack us -- and the global terrorist movement would be emboldened and more dangerous than ever before. To retreat before victory would be an act of recklessness and dishonor and I will not allow it."

Bush made the remarks in a televised address late last night from the Oval Office.

He said work in Iraq has been "more difficult than we expected" but urged Americans not to "give in to despair."

Bush said the recent parliamentary elections in Iraq will not end the violence there, but he added that they mark the beginning of a constitutional democracy in the heart of the Middle East.

The speech was Bush's fifth on Iraq in the course of nearly three weeks. In those addresses, Bush has admitted setbacks in Iraq and outlined a strategy he says will enable the Iraqi people to establish a stable political system and a strong defense capable of putting down the insurgency.

Coalition Images Of The Voting

The Multinational Force in Iraq on December 15, 2005, released official images of the voting in the legislative elections. To view a slideshow of their photographs, click on the image.

To see RFE/RL's special webpage about the election, click here.