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Bush Meets with Iraq Study Group


President Bush has met at the White House Monday with the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan panel named by Congress to make recommendations about U.S. policy in Iraq.

The Iraq Study Group is co-chaired by former Secretary of State James Baker, a Republican, and former Democratic Congressman Lee Hamilton.

A White House spokesman said the study group is to announce its recommendations to Mr. Bush and Congress by the end of this year.

Democratic Party leaders have been urging President Bush to come up with a timetable for withdrawing from Iraq.

The Democrats, who won control of both houses of Congress in mid-term elections last week, say their priority will be a change of course in Iraq.

Two of the United States' chief allies -- Australia and Britain -- are calling for dialogue with Iran and Syria on ending the violence in Iraq. British Prime Minister Tony Blair is to speak with the Iraq Study Group Tuesday via video link.

The likely incoming chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin, told ABC television Sunday that Democrats are going to push for a gradual pull-out from Iraq beginning in four to six months, with troops coming home in phases.

White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten said on ABC television that Mr. Bush is open to new ideas about Iraq, but that a withdrawal from the country would need to be based on conditions on the ground.

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

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