White House Rejects Appeal for New Iraq Plan



The White House has rejected an appeal from two prominent Senate Republicans for a new approach to the Iraq war. VOA's Paula Wolfson reports the senators want the president to draft a revised war plan.

They are two Senate leaders on national security issues.

John Warner of Virginia is the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee. Indiana's Richard Lugar has the senior party seat on the Foreign Relations panel.

They have proposed legislation giving the administration until mid-October to conduct a policy review and come up with a plan to restrict the mission of American troops in Iraq to military training, protecting borders and U.S. assets, and combating terrorism. They say that more than four years after the ouster of Saddam Hussein, it is time for Congress to reauthorize the war, taking into account the changed nature of the fight.

White House National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley told the Fox News Sunday television program that the Warner-Lugar proposal is not necessary, saying an orderly process for reviewing the president's Iraq strategy is already in place.

Hadley said that process begins in September.

"It begins with a report from our commander on the ground General Petraeus, and our ambassador on the ground Ryan Crocker," he said. "They will come back in September supplemented with a series of reports from the administration, from outside the administration, and that will be the time to consider the kind of questions and issues these gentlemen have raised."

A short time later on ABC's This Week program, Senator Warner urged the White House to reconsider. He said the proposal he drafted with Senator Lugar is sound, adding the president should start thinking about various policy options now.

Senator Warner pointed to the administration's recent mixed assessment of progress in Iraq, and expressed doubts the extra U.S. troops sent by President Bush will be matched by the necessary political will in Baghdad.

"After all, we started this surge thing to give a certain degree of security in Baghdad so that the government in Baghdad can perform," he said. "It is not likely to perform as we had anticipated. So the president will have to make some changes and I am confident he will do so and report to the Congress."

The Warner-Lugar proposal has also received a cool reception from Senate Democrats who want a firm timetable for a withdrawal from Iraq. Among them is Jim Webb of Virginia. He told NBC's Meet the Press the president's war policy has failed.

"We have reached the point where we have to come together as a Congress and bring some order into this," he said.

On Saturday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told reporters that Iraqi forces are ready to provide full security whenever U.S. troops leave. But on Sunday, his foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, told an American interviewer the prime minister was not calling for an immediate withdrawal.

"That [a withdrawal] is the goal," he said. "But he was not referring to a precipitous withdrawal or departure of the troops."

Foreign Minister Zebari appeared on CNN's Late Edition.

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