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Shelby says withdrawal not sign of U.S. mistake

By Jay Reeves
Associated Press Writer

BIRMINGHAM — The decision by Britain and Denmark to withdraw more than 2,000 troops from Iraq doesn't mean President Bush is mistaken to send additional U.S. troops into the fight at the same time, Alabama's U.S. senators said Wednesday.

Speaking in separate interviews, Republican Sens. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions both defended the troop surge, saying the United States forces stationed around Baghdad were in a far more unstable area than the British and Danish troops, who are based to the south.

Shelby said Iraq remains a "quagmire," and that the best way toward stabilizing the country may be Bush's decision to send in additional U.S. forces.

"I believe 20,000 troops might be enough but ... I wish we had 100,000 because we'd certainly carry the day. But we don't have them," Shelby said after speaking at a civic club meeting in Birmingham.

Should be enough

Sessions said the additional forces committed by Bush should be enough to stabilize the country "if the Iraqis follow through on their commitments."

"Ultimately, if the Iraqis are not willing to preserve their country, we cannot do it for them," Sessions said in a telephone interview.

The comments by Shelby and Sessions followed an announcement that Britain would remove about 1,600 troops from Iraq in the coming months and wants to make additional cuts in its forces by late summer. Denmark said it would withdraw its 460 troops, who were based in the same region as the British forces.

The Pentagon, meanwhile, is implementing Bush's plan to add about 21,000 troops in Iraq in hopes of stabilizing the area around Baghdad, which has been hard hit by sectarian and insurgent violence.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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