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White House agrees with Biden's withdrawl plan?

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/9BDFE794-8F5E-45B3-8656-02F9B47DE850.htm US reveals blueprint for Iraq pullout Sunday 27 November 2005, 9:12 Makka Time,
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 27, 2005
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      http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/9BDFE794-8F5E-45B3-8656-02F9B47DE850.htm

      US reveals blueprint for Iraq pullout

      Sunday 27 November 2005, 9:12 Makka Time, 6:12 GMT

      The White House has announced its plans to withdraw
      from Iraq, saying that a blueprint advocated last week
      by a Democratic senator was "remarkably similar" to
      its own.

      It also signalled its acceptance of a recent US Senate
      amendment designed to pave the way for a phased US
      military withdrawal from the country.

      The statement by Scott McClellan, the White House
      spokesman, came in response to a commentary published
      in The Washington Post by Joseph Biden, the top
      Democrat of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in
      which he said US forces will begin leaving Iraq next
      year "in large numbers".

      According to Biden, the US will remove about 50,000
      servicemen from the country by the end of 2006, and "a
      significant number" of the remaining 100,000 the year
      after.

      The blueprint also calls for leaving only an
      unspecified "small force" in Iraq to strike at
      fighters, if necessary.

      U-turn

      Less than two weeks ago, McClellan criticised John
      Murtha, a Democratic Representative, saying that his
      call for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, endorsed
      "the policy positions of Michael Moore", a stridently
      anti-war Hollywood filmmaker.

      However, Biden's ideas, relayed first in a speech in
      New York on 21 November, were more warmly received.

      Even though President George Bush has never publicly
      issued his own withdrawal plan and criticised calls
      for an early exit, the White House said many of the
      ideas expressed by the senator were his own.

      In the statement, released under the headline "Senator
      Biden adopts key portions of administration's plan for
      victory in Iraq", McClellan said the Bush
      administration welcomed Biden's voice in the debate.

      Remarkably similar

      "Today, Senator Biden described a plan remarkably
      similar to the administration's plan to fight and win
      the war on terror," the spokesman said.

      He said that as Iraqi security forces gained strength
      and experience, "we can lessen our troop presence in
      the country without losing our capability to
      effectively defeat the terrorists".

      McClellan said the White House now saw "a strong
      consensus" building in Washington in favour of Bush's
      strategy in Iraq.

      The Biden plan calls for preparatory work to the
      envisaged withdrawal to be done in the first six
      months of next year. It includes:

      * Forging a compromise among Iraqi factions, under
      which the Sunnis must accept that they no longer rule
      Iraq, and Shia and Kurds admit them into a
      power-sharing arrangement
      * Building Iraq's governing capacity
      * Transferring authority to Iraqi security forces
      * Establishing a contact group of the world's
      major powers to become the Iraqi government's primary
      international interlocutor.

      The White House statement also embraced a Senate
      amendment to a defence authorisation bill
      overwhelmingly passed by the Senate on 15 November
      that called for the administration to make 2006 "a
      period of significant transition to full Iraqi
      sovereignty" thereby creating conditions "for the
      phased redeployment of United States forces from
      Iraq".

      Reprimand to Bush

      The measure was largely seen as a reprimand to the
      Bush administration, often accused of lacking a viable
      strategy in Iraq.

      But the White House again said the Senate was reading
      from its own playbook.

      "The fact is that the Senate amendment reiterates the
      president's strategy in Iraq," the statement said.

      The Bush administration has been steadily moving
      towards a reduction of US troops in Iraq, and
      Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State, spoke last week
      of a reduction in the US presence for the first time.

      Her remarks contrasted sharply with her refusal last
      month to tell a Senate panel whether US troops would
      be out in a decade, acknowledging that anti-US attacks
      would continue "for quite a long time".
      AFP
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