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Bush Discusses Iraq Study With Congressional Leaders


After receiving a bipartisan report on Iraq, U.S. President George Bush met with members from both political parties in Congress to discuss the way forward. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

President Bush began the day in an early morning meeting with members of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, where the foreign policy experts presented 79 recommendations for shifting America's diplomatic and military approach to Iraq.

"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."

White House Spokesman Tony Snow says Administration officials spent much of the day reading the report and discussing its recommendations, which include the withdrawal of nearly all U.S. combat forces by 2008 and more direct talks with Iran and Syria.

While Snow says it is too soon to discuss how many of those recommendations will be adopted, President Bush has previously rejected any timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops and has said there will be no direct talks with Iran until it stops enriching uranium.

Meeting later in the day with Democrats and Republicans on congressional intelligence committees, President Bush called the Iraq Study Group findings "very interesting."

"There are some very good ideas in there," he added. "Not all of us around the table agree with every idea, but we do agree that it shows us that bipartisan consensus on important issues is possible. It's really important for the American people to know that there are people of goodwill here in town willing to set aside politics and focus on the security of this country and the peace of the world."

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

The panel spent months assessing the situation in Iraq, including interviews with U.S. officials, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Prime Minister Blair and President Bush meet at the White House Thursday where Iraq is expected to be at the center of their discussions.

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