Bush and Gates Meet to Discuss Iraq Plans

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President Bush met today with his national security team to talk about changing U.S. strategy in Iraq. This was the first meeting the president has had with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates since Gates' recent visit to Iraq.

Thursday's session in Crawford, Texas — called a "non-decisional meeting by the White House — included a lengthy presentation by Secretary Robert Gates, who discussed his trip last week to Iraq.

Others attending included Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Vice President Cheney, Joint-Chiefs Chairman Gen. Peter Pace, and National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley. A White House official says the meeting lasted nearly three hours, and continued into lunch.

Afterward, speaking to reporters in the dirt driveway of his ranch, President Bush said that he recognized that he'll have to sell his plan, whatever it is, to Congress.

He wouldn't say if it includes the possibility that some 30,000 additional troops will be sent into Iraq. Such a potential increase is described by the administration as a short term surge. But critics argue that a more appropriate term would be an escalation of the mission. Once deployed, they say, the forces could be difficult to withdraw as quickly as planned.

President Bush said that this meeting brought him closer to deciding on the next course of action in Iraq. He also said that he would seek more advice before making a decision.

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