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After Initial Refusal, Rumsfeld to Testify Before Senate Panel on Iraq


U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has agreed to publicly testify before a U.S. Senate committee Thursday on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, reversing an earlier decision that drew intense criticism from opposition Democrats.

Rumsfeld had told reporters Wednesday that he could not appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee because of his busy schedule. He said he was to attend a closed-door briefing with the entire 100-member Senate on the same day, Thursday.

Democratic Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of the northeastern U.S. state of New York sent him a letter urging him to appear at the public hearing, saying the American people should hear publicly from the nation's top civilian military leader.

Rumsfeld denied that he was reluctant to face senators in public and suggested that his criticism of his actions was politically motivated.

Some U.S. lawmakers have been critical of Rumsfeld over his handling of the Iraq war and the prisoner abuse scandal at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

Rumsfeld last testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee in February.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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