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Bush to Discuss Iraq Strategy With Top Pentagon Officials


President Bush meets with top U.S. Defense Department officials Wednesday as part of his review of U.S. policy in Iraq.

The president is consulting at the Pentagon, near Washington, Wednesday with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, as well as with outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Rumsfeld's successor, Robert Gates.

Two major U.S. newspapers, the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post, say the Pentagon is to push for an increase of American troops in Iraq.

Earlier Wednesday, Mr. Bush spoke by telephone with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Kurdish regional leader Massoud Barzani.

Mr. Bush held consultations Monday and Tuesday on Iraq. His talks included a White House meeting Tuesday with Iraq's Sunni vice president, Tariq al-Hashimi.

The White House said Tuesday that Mr. Bush will announce plans for Iraq in early 2007, not before Christmas as had been previously hoped.

But incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid criticized the time that Mr. Bush is taking, saying the American people demanded change six weeks ago in U.S. congressional elections. The Nevada Democrat says Iraq has since descended further toward what he called all-out civil war.

Last week, Mr. Bush received recommendations on Iraq from the bipartisan Iraq Study Group. The proposals include withdrawing most U.S. combat troops from Iraq by early 2008. The Bush administration has given a cool reception to that idea.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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