Democrats: start US Iraq withdrawal in 4-6 months

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WASHINGTON, Nov 12 (Reuters) Democrats, who won majorities in the U S Congress in last week's elections, today said they will push for a phased withdrawal of U S troops from Iraq to begin in four to six months.

''The first order of business is to change the direction of Iraq policy,'' said Sen Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat who is expected to be chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee in the new Congress.

Levin, on ABC's ''This Week,'' said he hoped some Republicans would emerge to join Democrats and press the administration of President George W. Bush to tell the Iraqi government that U S presence was ''not open-ended.'' Bush has insisted that U S troops would not leave Iraq until the Iraqis were able to take over security for their country.

''We need to begin a phased redeployment of forces from Iraq in four to six months,'' Levin said.

Speaking on the same program, Sen Joseph Biden, a Delaware Democrat who is expected to head the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he supported Levin's proposal for a withdrawal.

Reuters DKA DB2034

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