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Last Updated: Sunday, 16 January, 2005, 09:45 GMT
US voters 'endorsed Iraq policy'
George W Bush
George W Bush believes the US public are behind him on Iraq
President George W Bush has said his re-election has vindicated his administration's policy on Iraq.

Mr Bush said there was no need to hold any of his officials accountable for mistakes or misjudgements in pre-war planning or managing the aftermath.

In an interview in Sunday's Washington Post he said that his re-election was an "accountability moment".

The publication of the interview comes as Mr Bush prepares for the start of his second term on Thursday.

The newspaper asked Mr Bush why no-one had been held responsible for wrong information about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq or mistakes made after the US-led war.

"Well, we had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 election," he replied.

"And the American people listened to different assessments made about what was taking place in Iraq, and they looked at the two candidates, and they chose me, for which I'm grateful."

On Wednesday, intelligence officials confirmed that the US had stopped searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

They said the chief US investigator, Charles Duelfer, was not planning to return to the country.

No troop timetable

Mr Bush would not be drawn on setting a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, despite recent comments by Secretary of State Colin Powell that troop numbers could be reduced by the end of this year.

"I am realistic about how quickly a society that has been dominated by a tyrant can become a democracy. And therefore I am more patient than some," he said.

When asked why the administration had so far failed to locate Osama Bin Laden, more than three years after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US, the president responded, "Because he's hiding."

Mr Bush said he was "pleased" that Bin Laden had been isolated by the worldwide hunt for him, adding: " I will be more pleased when he is brought to justice, and I think he will be."

Mr Bush will be inaugurated for a second four-year term on Thursday in a ceremony on the steps of the US Capitol building in Washington.

The event includes a parade which will escort Mr Bush and his wife Laura to the White House.

Rehearsals for President Bush's inauguration

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