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Indonesian soldiers deploy prior to a visit by U.S. President George W. Bush Monday, in Bogor, Indonesia. ((Ed Wray/AP))

U.S. President W. George Bush refused to commit to the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq during his brief visitto Indonesia on Monday amid extremely tight security.

Bush shrugged off large demonstrations that greeted his arrival in the world's most populous Muslim nation,callingthem a sign of a healthy democracy.

"I applaud a society where people are free to express their opinion," Bush said of the protests during a meeting with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Bush said he is awaiting recommendations from the military and hasn't decided yet on whether to send more U.S.soldiers to Iraq or to begin bringing them home.

More than 18,000rifle-carryingtroops have been deployed in Bogor, on the outskirts of Jakarta, where Bush will spend his entire six-hour visit at a presidential retreat.

The two leaders said they discussed Iraq and broader Middle East issues, nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea, ways of combating avian flu, and educational issues. Bush will also be honoured with a state dinner.

Anger over Iraq war

Bush's war policy is immensely unpopular in Indonesia, where there have been anti-Bush protests staged by everyone from students to housewives and taxi drivers every day this month in anticipation of his arrival.

Thousands of rowdy protesters packed the streets of Bogoron Monday as hundreds of students attemptedto shut down American restaurants.

Bogor's police chief said authorities are investigating a report that a man wearing a suicide bomb vest will try to infiltrate the protests.

With files from the Associated Press