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Bush Pleased With Progress, Expects Iraq to Treat POWs Humanely

WASHINGTON -- President Bush is pleased with progress the military is making in the early stages of the war to rid Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction, he said during a press availability at the White House.

Bush said it is going to take awhile to achieve the objective, "but we're on course, we're determined, and we're making good progress."

The president indicated he didn't know all the details of the Americans being taken prisoner in Iraq. Iraqi television videotape of soldiers being questioned was broadcast on al Jazeera - a satellite news network based in the Persian Gulf.

It "appears likely" that the American soldiers were captured, Bush said, adding, "I do know that we expect them to be treated humanely, just like we treat any prisoner of theirs ... humanely."

Bush observed that Iraqi prisoners "are surrendering gleefully" because they know they will be well-treated.

He said Saddam Hussein is losing control of Iraq and that the coalition is achieving its objective. "It's important for the American people to realize that this war has just begun," the president stated.

"In terms of the overall strategy, we're just in the opening phases, and ... we're executing a plan that will make it easier to achieve our objectives and ... spare innocent lives."

Bush said he is proud of the coalition troops in showing their bravery and skill. "Most of the south is in coalition hands," he said, adding the air campaign is going well, and there is progress in the western part of Iraq.

"We have a game plan and a strategy to free the Iraqi people of Saddam Hussein and rid his country of weapons of mass destruction, and we're on plan," the president said.

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