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Former secretary of state Powell calls for talks with Iran, Syria
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08:18, July 07, 2007

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Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has urged the Bush administration to have talks with Iran and Syria as part of an overall strategy to prepare for military pullout from Iraq.

"I think we should be talking to Syria and Iran," said Powell, who has been a defender of President George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq.
"You have to talk to people you dislike most in this dangerous world."

Powell made the remarks Thursday at the Aspen Ideas Festival followed a panel discussion with Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, retired Army Gen. Jack Keane, and former Indiana congressman Lee Hamilton, co-chair of the Iraq Study Group.

Washington has been reluctant to have formal talks with Iran and Syria for their alleged, among others, supporting secretly anti-U.S. militants in Iraq.

Powell disagreed current large deployment of U.S troops in Iraq. He said even with 100,000 additional troops, it would be tough for the United States to continue its present mission in Iraq.

Instead, he called for a smaller U.S. force in Iraq, strategic redeployment of troops in the region and intense diplomatic efforts.

But the United States cannot "blow a whistle one morning and ( have) all 180,000 American forces just leave," the former secretary noted.

Shortly before the start of Iraq War in March 2003, Powell told the UN assembly that he supported sending troops as the only sure way to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Powell claimed Saddam had the ability and intent to develop and use weapons of mass destruction, a charge that has never been proved.

Source: Xinhua

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