(AFP) – Apr 9, 2008
WASHINGTON (AFP) — The White House on Wednesday left little doubt that US President George W. Bush will back the top US general in Iraq's call for freezing US troop withdrawals for at least 45 days after July.
"You've heard the president say for years that he's the type of commander in chief who listens to his commanders on the ground and to the experts who can provide the best advice to him," said spokeswoman Dana Perino.
In view of "the president's practice of listening to his commanders on the ground, it would not be to type if he did not listen to them," she told reporters.
The top US military commander in the war-torn country, Army General David Petraeus, recommended a pause in withdrawals on Tuesday in public testimony to US lawmakers, warning that military gains remained fragile.
Perino said that Bush would provide "his decision, his recommendations" on Thursday after meeting with top US lawmakers Wednesday.
"I'm not giving out a forecast exactly of what the president will say tomorrow," the spokeswoman said.
Asked whether Bush would discuss the issue of a possible reduction in the duration in US military tours in Iraq, Perino replied that "it's within the realm of possibility that he will talk about that tomorrow."
But she flatly ruled out any chance for the war, now in its sixth year, to end before Bush leaves office in January 2009, amid a fierce election-year push by Democrats to pare back US troops levels.
"It's not going to be possible to do that before the end of the year. The candidates have even acknowledged we will have troops in Iraq after 2009, after he leaves office," she said.
"And what the president is looking to do is to make sure that he makes tough decisions now that can help make for a smooth transition when the next president takes over," she said.
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