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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 July 2007, 16:56 GMT 17:56 UK
US Senate rejects Iraq troop vote
Workmen set up camp beds in the Senate building
Beds, pillows and snacks were brought in for the marathon session
Republicans in the US Senate have blocked Democratic plans for a vote on withdrawing troops from Iraq by the end of April, ending an all-night debate.

The Democrats, with 52-47 in favour, fell short of the 60 ballots required to move the proposal to a final vote.

They had hoped the marathon talks would put pressure on Republicans who had criticised the president's Iraq policy - but only three supported the measure.

Republican leaders dismissed the overnight debate as a publicity stunt.

Republicans have been blocking progress to a final vote on the troop withdrawal by requiring Democrats to clear a procedural hurdle of 60 votes in favour, rather than a simple majority of the Senate's 100 members.

US soldiers in Baghdad
The Democrats failed to woo wavering Republicans on Iraq
Three Republican senators had previously announced they would support the Democrats' bill - Gordon Smith, Olympia Snowe and Chuck Hagel.

The BBC's James Coomarasamy in Washington says most Republicans who are unhappy with the current course in Iraq favour less direct measures to influence policy and were hoping to vote on these in the next few days.

However, our correspondent says, it appears that, for the moment, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid does not want to allow them to do so.

He has directed the Senate to move on to discussion of legislation unrelated to the Iraq war.

Veto threat

As senators cast their votes, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was on Capitol Hill lobbying lawmakers on President George W Bush's Iraq policy.

The legislation, proposed by Democratic Senators Carl Levin and Jack Reed, would have required the withdrawal of most US troops from Iraq by the end of April 2008, with redeployment starting within 120 days of the bill's passage.

Even if the measure had been passed, President George W Bush had said he would veto any bill that called on him to set a timetable for withdrawing troops.

Many Republicans have backed Mr Bush's call to wait until a 15 September progress report on Iraq before considering a change in direction.

Following the result, Senator Joseph Biden, a Democrat and chair of the foreign relations committee, said: "We have to get us out of a middle of a civil war."

He said a political solution must be found "so when we leave Iraq, we don't just send our children home, we don't have to send our grandchildren back".

Earlier, Republican Senator John McCain described the talks as an "exhibition" which substituted "theatrics for statesmanship".

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