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President firm on strategy for Iraq

WASHINGTON (AP)— The White House is holding firm on its Iraq strategy in the face of yet another effort to curb the mission, proposed this time by moderate Republicans the Bush administration can ill afford to lose.

President Bush’s national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, said Sunday the administration’s “very orderly process” for reviewing its Iraq plans should be allowed to play out despite a hurry-up initiative from two respected GOP senators.

Hadley’s reply was “No” when asked whether Bush could live with the proposal by Sens. John Warner of Virginia and Richard Lugar of Indiana. They want to give the president until mid-October to submit a plan to restrict the use of U.S. troops in Iraq to fighting terrorists and securing borders and U.S. interests.

Bush is sticking to his plan to take stock of progress in Iraq in September and decide on a course of action from there, without conditions, his aide said.

Hadley made the rounds of morning television talk shows to praise the initiative of the senators — and turn thumbs down on it.

“They’ve done a useful service in indicating the kinds of things that we should be thinking about,” Hadley said. “But the time to begin that process is September.

“And the opening shot really ought to be to hear from the commanders on the ground who can make an assessment of where we are.”

The Senate’s Democratic leadership also is cool to the Warner-Lugar proposal, but for different reasons. Democrats favor tougher steps to restrict Bush’s options, but need more Republicans to peel away from Bush before they can prevail.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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