White House dismisses setting Iraq withdrawal time


Tue Jun 14, 2005 7:16 AM ET

By Tabassum Zakaria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Monday dismissed calls for setting a date to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq as a new poll showed a growing number of Americans believe the United States should pull those troops out.

President Bush has repeatedly said that U.S. troops would leave Iraq once Iraqi forces were trained to take over the security of their country.

"The president's talked about how timetables send the wrong message," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.

Some members of Bush's Republican Party are now joining in to call for a deadline to withdraw troops from Iraq, where a persistent insurgency has killed hundreds of American soldiers and Iraqis.

Rep. Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican, on Sunday said he would offer legislation this week setting a timetable for the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.

"A free Iraq is an important part of winning the war on terrorism and transforming a dangerous region of the world," McClellan said.

"The president believes it is vital that we complete our mission, and that means training Iraqi security forces. Then our troops can return home with the honor they have deserved," he said.

A new Gallup Poll shows that nearly six in 10 Americans say the United States should withdraw some or all of its troops from Iraq, up from 49 percent with that view in February, USA Today reported on Monday.

"Our troops understand the importance of the mission. And they understand the importance of completing that mission," McClellan said.

Bush on Monday spoke with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and discussed the drafting of the constitution and "underscored the importance" of meeting the Aug. 15 deadline, he said.

"They talked about the security situation and the progress being made to train the Iraqi security forces," McClellan said.

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