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Defense nominee Gates Attack Iran as last resort

Written by: Staff

WASHINGTON, Dec 5 (Reuters) Robert Gates, nominated to replace Donald Rumsfeld as U S defense secretary, today said the United States should attack Iran only as a last resort and that he would not support military action against Syria.

''I think that military action against Iran would be an absolute last resort,'' Gates said at his Senate confirmation hearing. The United States should first use diplomacy and work with allies to deal with problems it says Iran poses, he said.

''We have seen in Iraq that once war is unleashed, it becomes unpredictable, and I think the consequences of military conflict with Iran could be quite dramatic,'' Gates said.

Asked if he thought the United States should attack Syria, Gates said, ''No, sir, I do not.'' ''A military attack ... on Syria would have dramatic consequences across the Middle East,'' he added.

Gates, asked about Osama bin Laden, said the ability of al Qaeda's leader to organise and plan attacks was ''very limited now'' and that he will be found when someone turns him in.

Reuters SI DB2226

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