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As Violence Escalates, President Bush Assures Iraq of U.S. Support

In a fresh wave of sectarian attacks in Iraq Monday, more than 100 people were killed. Meanwhile, President Bush assured Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki that the United States has no plans to set a timetable for the removal of U.S. troops. Analysts discuss the struggle for security in Iraq.

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    Sectarian violence in Iraq continued to widen today, with a series of car bombings that rocked Baghdad and the town of Zuwahiriyah, south of the capital.

    Today's attacks came just a few hours after President Bush reassured Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki by phone that the U.S. had not yet decided on a deadline for withdrawing troops from Iraq. The call came amid rising concerns from U.S. officials about Prime Minister Maliki's ability to govern and about the U.S. strategy in Iraq.

    The chairman of the Senate Arms Services Committee, John Warner, said he stood by his recent bleak assessment after visiting Iraq earlier this month. He spoke yesterday on CBS's "Face the Nation."

    SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), Virginia: You can see some movement forward, but a lot of movement back. You have to rethink all the options, except any option which says we precipitously pull out, which would let that country fall into a certain civil war at that time, and all of the neighboring countries would be destabilized.


    Democrats long have called for a change in the U.S. strategy, and Congress has asked a group of outside experts to assess the American mission in Iraq. Former Democratic Congressman Lee Hamilton co-chairs the panel, called the Iraq Study Group. He appeared on the NewsHour last week.

  • LEE HAMILTON, Co-Chairman, Iraq Study Group:

    I think it's very much a question whether this political leadership can do it. I think that we must give them a chance to do it. There are some encouraging signs. Their rhetoric has been pretty good, but the follow-through with action has not measured up to our hopes.


    The group will give the president its recommendations about Iraq after the November midterm election. White House spokesman Tony Snow said today that Prime Minister Maliki also reassured the president when the two spoke.

  • TONY SNOW, White House Press Secretary:

    The violence level is absolutely unacceptable, and it is important to make progress. One of the things the prime minister was talking about in the phone call this morning with the president is he feels confident that the steps he is taking, both on the political and economic and security fronts, not only are moving forward, but are going to yield some fruit.


    Snow also said President Bush told Maliki to ignore rumors that the U.S. would set a timetable for the Iraqi government to take control of the violence.