( dpa )- US President George W Bush said Tuesday he is optimistic that political progress is being made in Iraq and vowed to keep fighting al-Qaeda terrorists who remain a "dangerous" threat in the country.
Speaking to reporters hours before his departure for the Middle East, Bush said he spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al- Maliki along with the top US diplomatic and military officials, ambassador Ryan Crocker and General David Petraeus .
"It was clear from my discussions that there's great hope in Iraq, that the Iraqis are beginning to see political progress that is matching the dramatic security gains for the past year," Bush said.
Bush ordered a troop surge in Iraq a year ago, and since coming into place last summer, the violence in Iraq has dropped rapidly as US and Iraqi forces intensified the hunt for al-Qaeda terrorists.
Bush, however, warned that al-Qaeda is still "capable of horrific violence" and vowed to continue fighting terrorists.
"Our enemies in Iraq have suffered blows in recent months but they're still dangerous," Bush said. "They are not yet defeated."
"We're not going to allow these terrorists to find respite anywhere in Iraq," he added. "And we're not going to allow them to regain the strongholds that they've lost.