RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
As we mentioned earlier, details of the Iraq Study Group's final report were leaked to The New York Times. Though the report does not advocate a firm timetable for withdrawal, it does call for a phased pullback of the American troops now in Iraq.
To hear more about this, we turn now to David Sanger, who reported on this story for the Times. Good morning.
Mr. DAVID SANGER (Correspondent, The New York Times): Good morning.
MONTAGNE: So this is a bipartisan group. Was this troop pullout a unanimous recommendation?
Mr. SANGER: It looks like it was unanimous compromise. You remember that there were two sort of separate paths and proposals in this group, and when they came to Washington on Monday there was sort of an alternative suggestion that had been put out by some of the Democratic members that called for a fairly strict timetable of about a year and the pullback of all of the 15 combat brigades. That would leave 70, 80,000 troops in Iraq to do logistics and training, although the proposals did not layout the specific numbers.
In the end, they've taken out the timetable because I think it became fairly clear to everybody that President Bush would reject any suggestion - this group's recommendations are not binding - that had a strict timetable in it.
MONTAGNE: And then this was combined, as you write, with a recommendation for aggressive diplomacy in the region.
Mr. SANGER: That's right. And that means much more engagement with the regional neighbors, which I don't think the administration will have any problems with. They've obviously begun that process themselves as this report has approached. But also much more engagement with Iran and Syria, and there I think the Study Group and the administration are on different paths.
MONTAGNE: You say that in this article that some of your sources are concerned that in fact events will overtake even this group's recommendations, that is it might be too late.
Mr. SANGER: You know, this has been a concern for the Iraq Study Group since it began in March, or thereabout. By the time their recommendations came out, that events could make all of the recommendations a bit academic. And in fact that could well happen. I mean we don't have a really good sense of where this conflict will be in a month. So to look out, you know, half a year or a year, which is sort of the timeframe of these recommendations, is very difficult.
MONTAGNE: David, thanks very much.
Mr. SANGER: Thank you.
MONTAGNE: David Sanger, along with David Cloud, wrote an article this morning in The New York Times on the recommendations that the Iraq Study Group will make.
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