Obama aide signals shift on Iraq troop withdrawal

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Washington, July 8 : Democrat presidential nominee Barack Obama has said that he will continue to refine his views and policies on all issues, including the one on troop withdrawals from Iraq.

"When I go to Iraq and have a chance to talk to some of the commanders on the ground, I am sure I'll have more information and will continue to refine my policies," The Washington Times quoted Obama, as saying.

The McCain camp immediately responded by saying that: "It's clear Obama is rightly trying to reverse the central premise of his campaign: his pledge to immediately withdraw troops from Iraq."

Obama campaign spokesman Robert Gibbs dropped further hints of a more gradual withdrawal strategy Monday, telling CNN, "Obviously you have to give commanders on the ground flexibility. We'd be crazy not to."

Signals of a coming change on his Iraq policy, plus shifts on other positions he has staked out in the primaries, have infuriated many of his leading liberal supporters in the past week.

Obama, whose candidacy was fuelled by his anti-war position on Iraq, has since softened the way he describes his pullout plan, saying he would be "as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in."

He began his campaign by calling for a total pullout, then changed that to all U.S. combat troops, which would leave thousands of other special forces behind.

In a lengthy telephone call last month with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Obama appeared to send a signal that his plan was far less rigid than he earlier suggested.

Zebari said Obama "reassured" him that he would do nothing to jeopardize Iraq's security gains.

his and other statements by Obama advisers have convinced several top Democratic Iraq analysts that the senator is softening his withdrawal posture but is not willing to flatly say that for fear of alienating his large anti-war base of support.

ANI

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