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Clinton Campaign Removes Chief Strategist

Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign has removed Mark Penn from his job as chief strategist, following a controversy over his support for an international trade deal opposed by Clinton.

The Clinton campaign issued a statement Sunday evening saying Penn would be removed from his position, but would continue to provide polling services and advice to the campaign.

Penn met last month at the Colombian Embassy in Washington with officials who hired Penn's lobbying firm to encourage U.S. lawmakers to vote in favor of a trade deal between the U.S. and Colombia.

Clinton says she intends to vote against the trade deal. Penn called the meeting an error in judgment.

On Saturday, the government of Colombia responded to Penn's apology by ending its contract with his public relations firm.

Clinton and her Democratic opponent Senator Barack Obama campaigned Sunday in the western United States seeking votes in Montana and South Dakota.

The Republican Party's presumptive nominee for president, Senator John McCain said Sunday Iraq's military performed "pretty well" during its recent assault in the southern Iraqi city of Basra despite mixed results of the battle.

He said such an assault would have been unthinkable just nine months ago.

McCain's comment comes just days before the U.S. commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, is to give an assessment of the war before the U.S. Congress.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.