US President George W. Bush has held private talks with the experts of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group. Speaking with reporters after a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Bush gave a guarded response when asked about the outcome.
“I was pleased to meet with them. I was impressed by the quality of their membership. I was impressed by the questions they asked. They want us to succeed in Iraq, just like I want to succeed. And so we had a really good discussion. And I’m not sure what the report is going to say. I’m looking forward to seeing it,” he said.
The panel is headed by former US Secretary of State James Baker and has been asked by Congress to re-evaluate strategy in Iraq. Although it is not yet complete, a lot is already riding on its findings. It is hoped that it will give Democrats and Republicans a chance for consensus over Iraq – or at least a workable framework for agreement.
Baker has hinted that the recommendation, to be issued in December, will fall somewhere between a strategy of phased troop withdrawal favoured by the Democrats, one of staying the course in Iraq and a third involving talks with Iran and Syria.