Rice: Bush would oppose Iraq benchmarks

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday she would not rule out meeting with her Iranian counterpart on the sidelines of a multinational conference on Iraq security next week.

Rice: Bush would oppose Iraq benchmarks
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday she would not rule out meeting with her Iranian counterpart on the sidelines of a multinational conference on Iraq security next week.

"I will not rule out that we may encounter each other," she said.

"This is not a meeting about the United States and Iran, this is a meeting about Iraq and about what Iraq's neighbors and interested parties can do to help stabilize the situation in Iraq," she told ABC news.

She said it was "quite obvious" what Tehran would need to do help violence-racked Iraq.

President George W. Bush last week suggested Rice might have bilateral talks with the Iranian foreign minister at the conference of ministers from the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the Group of Eight and Iraq's neighbors at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on May 3 and 4.

Bush not supporting war spending bill

President Bush will not support a war spending bill that punishes the Iraqi government for failing to meet benchmarks for progress, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday.

Rice's comments cast fresh doubt on a potential compromise between the Democratic-led Congress and the White House in getting money to U.S. troops.

In Washington this week, Bush plans to veto a $124.2 billion war spending bill that includes a timeline for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq. In a second version, Democratic leaders may scrap the timetable but work with Republican lawmakers on benchmarks: ordering the Iraqi government to fulfill promises on allocating oil resources, amending its constitution and expanding democratic participation.

Rice suggested the president would not agree to a plan that penalizes Baghdad if the Iraqi government fall shorts. To do so, she said, would remove the ability of Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, and other leaders "to do their jobs".

"What we don't want to do is to tie our own hands in Iraq." Rice said.

Bush is expected the veto the existing war bill by Tuesday, then meet Wednesday with congressional leaders on the next steps.

Meanwhile, Rice said will not appear in person before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to answer questions about the Bush administration's prewar intelligence. Rice said she already has addressed claims that Iraq had sought uranium from the African nation of Niger.

The committee voted 21-10 last week to issue a subpoena to compel her testimony.

Asked about the possibility of being held in contempt by the committee chairman, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., Rice said, "That's the chairman's prerogative. I respect the oversight — the oversight responsibilities of Congress — but I frankly think this one has been looked at and looked at and looked at."

Rice appeared on "This Week" on ABC.
Last Mod: 29 Nisan 2007, 20:01
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