Bush's Request for Iraq Could Top $80B

President Bush wants billions of dollars more to pay for U.S. troops in Iraq and rebuilding the country, and congressional aides say the figure could top $80 billion in the upcoming budget year.

Bush, who was discussing Iraq and the terrorism fight in a nationally televised address from the White House on Sunday night, believes the "cost of freedom and the cost of peace cannot be measured and that it is important that we put adequate resources to this task," national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said.

The president is talking with lawmakers about what is needed and working on ways to increase the participation of Iraqis and other nations in stabilizing and reconstructing Iraq, Rice said.

"The key here is we must remain resolute," she told CNN's "Late Edition."

"There's a reason that foreign fighters are coming into Iraq. There is a reason that we're seeing evidence - not really yet completely clear evidence - of terrorists trying to operate in Iraq," Rice said. "They know that this is the central battle in the war on terrorism." BEGIN POSITION 3 END POSITION 3

Rice declined to offer specifics on how much money would be needed. Congressional aides, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they would not be surprised if the amount the president requests is higher than the $60 billion to $80 billion figure that has been reported for the budget year beginning Oct. 1.

"I think it could be bigger than $80 billion," said a congressional aide, who is familiar with the president's work in refining how much to request from Congress. "I think the expectation is that it's going to be a very, very big number."

A second congressional aide said: "I'm thinking we're in the $70 billion to $80 billion range and I would lean to the higher end of that."

Rice said commanders in the field believe there are enough U.S. troops in Iraq. She would not speculate about how long they would remain there. "It is really difficult to put a time frame on this," she said. "The key is to get the job done." The kind of troops is more important than the number, she said.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, on ABC's "This Week," said: "If we can get Iraqis trained and equipped quickly to start doing these guard functions and to go to places that are relatively stable and keep them stable, then that's what we should do, and not send more U.S. troops to stand around in these places."

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved.