Gates Says U.S. May Need To Pause In Drawdown Of Troops From Iraq

BAGHDAD (AP) — Defense Secretary Robert Gates is publicly endorsing the idea of a pause in the drawdown of U.S. forces from Iraq this summer, as proposed by the top U.S. commander in Iraq.

After a meeting in Iraq with General David Petraeus, Gates says a pause “probably does make sense” and that his thoughts on the issue have been heading in the same direction.

The defense secretary makes it clear that President Bush will have the final say on the matter.

General David Petraeus has indicated recently that he wants a “period of evaluation” this summer to assess the impact on Iraq security of reducing the U.S. military presence from 20 brigades to 15 brigades.

Of that five-brigade reduction, only one has departed thus far. The last of the five is to be gone by the end of July.

Gates is in Iraq to press Iraqi leaders to pass power-sharing legislation that would spell out responsibilities of the provinces and the central government.