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U.S. Defense Chief Reassures Allies On Iraq

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld (file photo) 9 October 2004 -- U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld met today with defense ministers from 18 allied countries on an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf.

The meeting aboard the "USS John F. Kennedy" was attended by ministers from countries with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as defense ministers from Iraq, Bahrain, and Qatar.

Rusmsfeld told reporters accompanying him on the flight from Washington to Bahrain that the United States may send more troops to Iraq to protect the planned January elections against violence.

He suggested that U.S. commanders in Iraq might yet decide that they need more troops. Rumsfeld did not say if the commanders have already made a request.

The United States has about 135,000 troops in Iraq. Rumsfeld said by the time of elections, another 40,000 trained Iraqi security forces could be added on top of roughly 100,000 lready on the job.