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Bush Rebuffs Congressional Criticism On Iraq Troops

President Bush (left) and Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki (file photo) (epa) January 27, 2007 -- U.S. President George W. Bush has rejected criticism from members of Congress about his plan to send more than 20,000 extra U.S. troops to Iraq.

Bush said on January 26 that he is the "decision-maker" about troop levels and has decided on a plan that he believes will succeed.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has also expressed his view about Congressional opposition to the troop buildup, saying the same day that an effort in Congress to pass a resolution opposing the new deployment would undercut U.S. commanders and "embolden the enemy and our adversaries."

The movement for a nonbinding expression of disagreement with a troop buildup is attracting backers from Bush's own party, including the senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, John Warner (Virginia).

Debate on the resolution is expected to begin in the next several days.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose Democratic Party swept to power in midterm elections in November due in part to public discontent over the war in Iraq, visited Baghdad on January 26 and met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Pelosi has helped lead opposition to the troop increase.

A statement says al-Maliki assured Pelosi of Iraq's intention to assume the security mission currently handled by U.S.-led forces.

The Senate on January 26 confirmed the appointment of Army Lieutenant General David Petraeus to take over as the top U.S. commander in Iraq.

Petraeus said at his confirmation hearing that he would like the additional 21,500 troops in Iraq as soon as possible.

In Iraq, authorities say that at least 12 people were killed today in car-bomb attacks -- two of them in the capital, Baghdad, and two others in Kirkuk.

(compiled from agency reports)

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