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Bush admits to 'tough month' in Afghanistan

  • Story Highlights
  • May and June death tolls for foreign troops higher in Afghanistan than Iraq
  • President Bush calls June a "tough month" for troops in Afghanistan
  • President says death toll higher because U.S., allies taking fight to Taliban
  • Bush says he'll pursue diplomatic pressure on Iran but "all options are on the table"
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush on Wednesday acknowledged that June was a difficult month for American and allied troops in Afghanistan, saying the higher death toll there was because troops are taking the fight to Taliban militants.

"It has been a tough month in Afghanistan, but it's also been a tough month for the Taliban," Bush said at a Rose Garden news conference in response to reporters' questions about several sobering milestones last month.

Forty-six U.S. and allied personnel lost their lives in Afghanistan last month, the highest monthly toll since the war started. The 28 American troop deaths also marked the highest U.S. monthly death toll in Afghanistan in the conflict.

In May and June, the American and allied death toll surpassed those in Iraq, where there are far more U.S.-led coalition troops.

In June, 46 foreign troops died in Afghanistan and 31 troops died in Iraq, according to official figures tallied by CNN. In May, 23 foreign troops died in Afghanistan and 21 in Iraq.

"You know, one reason why there have been more deaths is because our troops are taking the fight to a tough enemy, an enemy who doesn't like our presence there because they don't like the idea of America denying safe haven," Bush added.

Bush said he is confident that the strategy of confronting the Taliban and al Qaeda elements and promoting the growth of a free society in Afghanistan will work.

"America is pressing an ideology that's opposite of theirs, and so of course there's going to be resistance," Bush said.

The president also said he will continue to pursue diplomatic pressure on Iran to encourage it to drop its nuclear enrichment program amid reports that Israel is considering unilateral military action against Tehran.

"I have always said that all options are on the table, but the first option for the United States is to solve this problem diplomatically," Bush said.

"I have also made it clear that you can't solve a problem diplomatically unless there are other people at the table with you. And that is why we have been pursuing multilateral diplomacy."

Iranian Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari said Tuesday that Iran would respond "fiercely" to any attack.

All About George W. BushAfghanistanIran

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