U.S. general hints delay in full Iraq review

By Xinhua

Washington : The American public and Congress may wait till November, not September, to see a complete review of President George W. Bush's Iraq strategy, a top U.S. general said on Thursday.

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"Forty-five days from now, September 1 … I'll be able to make a bit more accurate assessment," Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, No. 2 in command in Iraq, told reporters via video link from Baghdad.

However, "in order to do a good assessment, I need at least till November to do that," he added.

An emergency war funding bill passed by the Congress in May requires the Bush administration to submit two reports on the progress of Bush's Iraq policy, one in July and the other in September.

The first report that came out last week, painted a bleak picture of Iraq.

The September report, only weeks away, will be central to a debate in Congress over whether to force the administration to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq.

Under growing pressure to change Iraq policy, the White House is trying to play down expectations on the report.

Echoing an official line, Odierno cautioned that any change of Iraq strategy should be done in a careful and slow fashion.

Otherwise, Iraqis and U.S. troops will "be put in greater danger," he said.