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U.S.: Bush To Declare 'End Of Major Combat' In Iraq

Washington, 1 May 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The White House says that U.S. President George W. Bush will declare tomorrow an end to "the major combat operations" in Iraq. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said last night that Bush will speak from the deck of the aircraft carrier "USS Abraham Lincoln," a vessel vital in the air war against Iraq.

Bush's speech will stop short of a formal victory declaration since the U.S. is still seeking evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and sporadic resistance continues there.

But the speech is expected to set the stage for the U.S.-led operations focused on reconstructing Iraq.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld today ended a tour of the Persian Gulf by meeting with the emir of Kuwait to thank him for backing the war in Iraq.

It is expected that Rumsfeld will discuss with Kuwaiti leaders prospects for the reduction of the U.S. military presence in the region.

Two days ago, Rumsfeld's visit to Saudi Arabia ended with an announcement that U.S. combat forces will be out of that country by the end of the summer.

Following the visit to Kuwait, Rumsfeld is to travel to Afghanistan for talks with Afghan leaders.