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Powell: U.S. losses diminishing support for Bush administration

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Saying "we have run into some tough weeks" in Iraq, Secretary of State Colin Powell acknowledged Thursday that support among the American people for the Bush administration's policies there is declining.

"When lives are lost people start to wonder about it, and it is reflected in the polls," Powell told a news conference during a six-hour stopover in Denmark, a steadfast U.S. ally in military operations.

But Powell said he expects a rebound. "The American people fully understand the value of what we are doing," he said.

In Iraq, 10 U.S. soldiers were killed Thursday — eight of them in a car bombing south of Baghdad. The two others were killed in a convoy attack in Baghdad and roadside bomb in Baqoubah, north of the capital.

At the same time, U.S. Marines announced an agreement to end a bloody, nearly monthlong siege of Fallujah, saying American forces will pull back and allow an all-Iraqi force commanded by a former Saddam Hussein-regime general to take over security.

The American deaths raised to 126 the number of U.S. troops killed in combat in April, the bloodiest month for U.S. forces in Iraq.

Powell's insistence that the United States and its allies must remain and steer Iraq toward Democracy drew an instant endorsement from Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller.

"We reiterated our intention to stay until the job is done," Moeller said.

Powell said he hoped a NATO meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, in June would produce a call from the alliance for more countries to contribute troops.

Powell said there were 30 nations in the U.S.-led coalition, but that he was "not sure there is a great reservoir of troops in NATO" to join them.

Denmark's decision to keep some 500 troops in Iraq countered somewhat the defection of Spain, Honduras and the Dominican Republic.

On Iraq policy, Powell told Danish high school students earlier that there were "different points of view" within the Bush administration and, as a Cabinet officer, it was not up to him to decide U.S. foreign policy.

President Bush, he said, "is wise enough and strong enough to listen to all points" and make his own decisions.

"Our discussions have been very informative, and occasionally there is a debate," Powell said as he guardedly substantiated published reports of divergences in views among Bush's senior advisers.