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Last Updated: Monday, 12 June 2006, 15:25 GMT 16:25 UK
Iraq tops agenda for Bush cabinet
US President George W Bush waves as he boards Marine One in Washington to fly to Camp David
President Bush faces a number of tough challenges in Iraq
US President George W Bush has begun talks with his cabinet members and top military and political advisers to consider the path ahead in Iraq.

The two-day meeting is taking place at the presidential retreat at Camp David.

Senior US military commanders and new Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki will be joining in via a video link.

They are discussing how best to deploy the US resources in Iraq and how to achieve the goal of an Iraq that can govern itself and defend itself.

President Bush is meeting his secretaries of defence and state, his national security advisor and his top military commanders at the mountain retreat in Maryland.

The challenges they must address are legion, the BBC's Adam Brookes in Washington says:

  • the intractable insurgency

  • the slow pace of reconstruction

  • the growth of sectarian violence

  • when US troops might start leaving Iraq

But our correspondent adds that the talks are being held in a rare mood of optimism.

Last week saw the killing of the al-Qaeda in Iraq leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and the appointment of ministers in the Iraqi government for defence, security and the interior.

Now the Bush administration sees these developments as real progress and is fervently hoping that they will buttress the credibility of Iraq's new government, our correspondent says.

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