Bush ready to announce decisions on Iraq strategy

Iraq is preparing to execute two of Saddam Hussein's co-defendants.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush said Thursday he wished the execution of Saddam Hussein "had gone in a more dignified way." Bush also said he will make a speech next week announcing his long-awaited decisions about how to proceed in the unpopular war in Iraq.
Considering more troops to deal with the rising violence in Baghdad, Bush said, "One thing is for certain: I will want to make sure the mission is clear and specific and can be accomplished." Senior generals have cautioned against sending additional troops unless their role is defined.
Bush and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki spoke on a secure video hookup for nearly two hours. The White House said it could be their last conversation before Bush details his decisions.
Bush appeared later with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and recounted some of his discussions with al-Maliki.
Saddam's execution
The president said he talked with the prime minister about the final moments of Saddam's life, when he was taunted before being hanged. An unauthorized video showed images of Saddam's dangling body. The White House has been reluctant to criticize the proceedings, which have been condemned by some world leaders as deplorable.
"My personal reaction is that Saddam Hussein was given a trial that he was unwilling to give the thousands of people he killed," Bush said. "He was given a fair trial -- something he was unwilling to give thousands of Iraqi citizens who he brutalized."
"I wish, obviously, that the proceedings had gone on in a more dignified way," Bush said. "But, nevertheless, he was given justice. The thousands of people he killed were not."
Meanwhile, twin car bombs killed 13 people Thursday in an upscale Baghdad neighborhood after a lull in violence during an Islamic holiday, and Iraq prepared to execute two of Saddam's co-defendants.
The explosions went off one after another at 10:30 a.m. in the Mansour neighborhood, setting fire to a gas station and incinerating at least a half dozen cars. In addition to the dead, police said at least 25 people were wounded.
Firefighters sprayed streams of water on the wreckage as soldiers and civilians staggered around in a daze. "What do they want from us? What do they want from us?" one Iraqi soldier asked, referring to those behind the blasts. Blood pooled among scattered containers for propane and kerosene, near where tea cups lay toppled on a blanket spread over wood crates.
Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell said this week there had been a "downturn" in violence during the four-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, which began last weekend. Thursday was the first day after Eid for both Sunnis and Shiites. Caldwell acknowledged the possibility that violence could surge again.
Police said 47 tortured bodies were found dumped across Baghdad on Thursday, up from 27 a day earlier. An American soldier was killed by small arms fire in western Baghdad, the military announced.
More executions
Despite the burgeoning row over Saddam's hanging as well as a call for restraint from the United Nations, Iraqi officials said Thursday they planned to execute two of the executed dictator's co-defendants in the coming days.
"Nobody can stop the carrying out of court verdicts," Sami al-Askari, an adviser to the prime minister, told the BBC's Arabic service. "The court's statute does not allow even the president of the republic or the prime minister to commute sentences, let alone grant a pardon. Therefore, no pressure can stop the executions."
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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