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Bush Gets Iraq Study Group Report


President Bush has received the report of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group - a panel of foreign policy experts set up by Congress to scrutinize the situation in Iraq and draft recommendations for change. We have details from VOA's Paula Wolfson at the White House.

Members of the Iraq Study Group arrived at the White House before dawn to deliver their report to the president.

"This report gives a very tough assessment of the situation in Iraq. It is a report that brings some really very interesting proposals and we will act in a timely fashion," Mr. Bush says.

They met for about an hour. Afterwards, they appeared briefly before reporters.

"We have got men and women of both political parties around this table who have spent a lot of time thinking about the way forward in Iraq and the way forward in the Middle East, and I cannot thank them enough," Mr. Bush says.

The president did not talk about specifics of the report, and is not expected to do so until the White House has had time to take a close look at all the recommendations.

Republican James Baker, a former secretary of state, and Democrat Lee Hamilton, a former congressman who once chaired the House International Relations Committee, led the 10-member commission.

The panel spent months assessing the situation in Iraq and drafting proposals for shifts in diplomatic and military strategy. The White House cooperated with the commission, and said repeatedly that it welcomed its recommendations.

But officials also made clear that the administration is conducting its own review of Iraq policy, and the Iraq Study Group's report is just one source of advice reaching the president.

As he received the report, President Bush vowed to take it very seriously, and urged members of Congress to do the same.

"This report will give us all an opportunity to find common ground for the good of the country - not for the good of the Republican Party or the Democrat Party, but for the good of the country," Mr. Bush says.

After the meeting, White House spokesman Tony Snow said the report does not call for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, and includes no firm timetable for an American withdrawal. He also said it urges the Bush administration to engage directly with Iraq's neighbors, Iran and Syria.

That suggestion could get a cool reception from the Bush administration. White House officials have indicated they are not interested in engaging Iran and Syria, although they have said the Iraqi government has every right to do so. And the president has said repeatedly that U.S. troops will not leave Iraq until he is convinced their mission is complete.

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