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Bush Gates differ over Iraq policy
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US President George W. Bush has accepted top US commander in Iraq David Petraeus' plan to halt the withdrawal of troops in July, but his defense secretary has spoken in a different tone.

According to Friday's issue of the Los Angeles Times, while Bush said he would give Petraeus "all the time he needs" to decide on future troop cuts, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told a Senate hearing that he hoped to resume troop reductions soon after a "brief" 45-day pause this summer.

Gates' comments, along with similar testimony from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, were in stark contrast to those of Petraeus and Bush, who said that it could be months before conditions in Iraq permitted further troop withdrawals.

Differences within the Bush administration over the issue have been brewing for months, but rarely have they been aired publicly.

It will likely set up a potential confrontation this fall, just weeks before the US presidential election.

The Pentagon, worried about having enough troops for Afghanistan, may insist on cuts in the Iraq force.

But such a stance would clash with Petraeus and Bush.

(Xinhua News Agency April 12, 2008)

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