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Democrats Call on Bush to Reject Any Troop Surge in Iraq


The Democratic leaders of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have asked President Bush to reject any plans to boost troops levels in Iraq, saying it would escalate the war.

In an open letter to Mr. Bush, the newly-sworn in House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, said increasing the number of troops would only endanger more Americans and stretch the U.S. military to the breaking point "for no strategic gain."

President Bush plans to unveil a new Iraq policy next week that he says will help Iraqis achieve their objective of being able to govern and defend themselves. News reports say the new strategy could include a short-term surge of thousands of U.S. troops into the country.

President Bush is also planning to name new U.S. military commanders for Iraq and the Middle East. Defense Secretary Robert Gates made his recommendations for the posts public Friday.

Gates said that U.S. Army Lieutenant General David Petraeus should be promoted and replace General George Casey as commander of U.S. forces in Iraq. The defense secretary also recommended that Navy Admiral William Fallon succeed Army General John Abizaid as head of the U.S. Central Command.

General Petraeus led the early effort to train Iraqi security forces. Admiral Fallon currently commands U.S. forces in the Pacific.

The recommendations are expected to be accepted by President Bush. Several administration officials who asked not to be named had told the media earlier to expect those appointments.

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