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Lawmakers press Bush over Iraq pullout plan

July 30, 2005


WASHINGTON, July 29: Republicans and Democrats said on Thursday that setting a timetable for US troops to leave Iraq would send a message to the world, not to militants there. “The insurgents aren’t listening to us,” Republican Representative Wayne Gilchrest said on Thursday.

“This is a message to the people of the world ... that the US does not intend to stay as a permanent presence in Iraq or Afghanistan,” he said. The 45 co-sponsors of a bill “to develop and implement a plan for the withdrawal of United States Armed Forces from Iraq” come from across the political spectrum, from conservative Republican Walter Jones to left-leaning Democrat Dennis Kucinich.

President George W. Bush has rejected the idea of withdrawing US troops from Iraq according to a fixed calendar.

“Setting an artificial timetable would send the wrong message to the Iraqis who need to know that America will not leave before the job is done. It would send the wrong message to our troops ... and it would send the wrong message to the enemy who would know that all they have to do is to wait us out,” Mr Bush said on June 28.

The US commander in Iraq said on Wednesday that the 140,000 troops there could be greatly reduced if Iraq becomes politically stable.

“If the political process continues to go positively and if the development of the security forces continues to go on, I do believe that we will be able to make fairly substantial reductions after these (December) elections, in the spring,” said Gen George Casey.—AFP