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Bush Holding Consultations on Iraq


President Bush is holding the second of three days of consultations he scheduled this week on Iraq.

Mr. Bush conferred via teleconference with U.S. military commanders in Iraq and the U.S. ambassador there. Later, he is to have a White House meeting with Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, the highest-ranking Sunni Arab politician in Iraq.

The president will hold consultations Wednesday at the U.S. Defense Department. The White House says it hopes Mr. Bush will make a speech on his Iraq policy before the December 25 Christmas holiday, or soon after.

The president has said he will consider recommendations from various sources before announcing any policy change.

On Monday, he consulted with Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other officials. Separate talks involved three retired generals and other non-government experts.

Last week, Mr. Bush got recommendations on Iraq from the bipartisan Iraq Study Group. The recommendations include engaging Iran and Syria, and withdrawing most U.S. combat troops from Iraq by early 2008.

The president says he will take the recommendations from the 10-member panel seriously.

Mr. Bush has ruled out direct talks with Iran until Tehran suspends its nuclear enrichment activities. The Bush administration also has given a cool reception to the recommendation of pulling out most combat troops.

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