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Bush plans move toward next phase in Iraq war: report
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08:09, July 11, 2007

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U.S. President George W. Bush, facing a growing Republican revolt against his Iraq policy, has rejected calls to change course and will launch a campaign emphasizing his intent to draw down U.S. forces next year and move toward a more limited mission if security conditions improve, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Starting in Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday, Bush plans to lay out what an aide called "his vision for the post-surge" to assure the nation that he also wants to begin bringing troops home eventually, senior officials were quoted as saying.

Top administration officials have begun talking with key Senate Republicans to walk them through Bush's view of the next phase in the war, beyond the troop increase he announced six months ago.

The White House devised the political strategy after days of intense internal discussions about how to respond to several prominent Republican senators who have broken with Bush's war policy recently, the report said.

Bush decided against heeding their proposal to begin redeploying U.S. troops as early as this summer, but he and his team concluded that he needed to shift his message to show that he shares the goals of his increasingly restless Republican caucus and the broader public.

Bush intends to argue that Congress and the public should look past this week's scheduled status report on Iraq and wait for the fuller assessment due in September, the newspaper reported.

The current political challenge comes at a time when Bush has been talking increasingly with advisors about what situation he will leave behind in Iraq for his successor.

The president therefore has mapped out a best-case scenario for Iraq on Jan. 20, 2009, which would still see considerable numbers of U.S. troops on the ground, but in a different role, the report said.

If events work out as Bush hopes, aides said, U.S. forces by then will have sharply reduced their mission, pulling out of sectarian combat and focusing instead on fighting al Qaeda, guarding Iraq's borders and supporting Iraqi troops.

Instead of operating under a U.N. mandate, the United States would negotiate an agreement with the Iraqi government for a smaller, long-term presence, according to the Post.

Source: Xinhua

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