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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 December 2006, 19:07 GMT
Gates briefs Bush on Iraq visit
Robert Gates visits US troops in Iraq
Robert Gates spent three days assessing the situation in Iraq
New US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has briefed President George W Bush about his recent trip to Iraq, as the White House considers a policy shift.

Mr Gates went to the presidential retreat at Camp David, near Washington, to report on his three days in Iraq.

Mr Bush has conceded that the US is not winning in Iraq, and sent Mr Gates to assess the situation on the ground.

The defence secretary said Iraqi leaders had "concrete plans" to end escalating sectarian violence.

In the New Year President Bush is expected to announce a short-term increase in US forces in Iraq.

White House spokesman Tony Snow told reporters on Wednesday that such a deployment was "something that's being explored".

The US currently has about 140,000 troops in Iraq.

I think they [Iraqi leaders] are eager to take the lead
Robert Gates
US Defence Secretary

But in recent weeks, attacks on US and Iraqi troops, as well as civilians, have reached their highest level since power was handed over to an interim Iraqi government in June 2004.

The Camp David talks were also attended by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and other top officials.

"The president is leaving all options on the table on the way forward," Blain Rethmeier, a White House spokesman, said in a statement following the meeting.

Mr Gates returned from Iraq on Friday. He said Iraqi leaders took "their responsibilities seriously" and were "eager to take the lead" in curbing violence.

Mr Gates earlier this month succeeded Donald Rumsfeld - who had been blamed for setbacks in tackling the Iraqi insurgency.

A Pentagon report released on Monday said the number of attacks had risen to almost 1,000 a week - with the worst violence in Baghdad and the western province of Anbar.


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