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Bush says 'all options' on table for Iraq

President: Ending Saddam's regime 'in the interest of the world'

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, left, and President Bush talk to reporters following a meeting at the president's Texas ranch.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, left, and President Bush talk to reporters following a meeting at the president's Texas ranch.  

CRAWFORD, Texas (CNN) -- President Bush on Wednesday reiterated the United States is in no hurry in its dealings with Iraq but said bringing an end to Saddam Hussein's regime is "in the interest of the world."

"How we achieve that is a matter of consultation and deliberation," the president told reporters after meeting with military planners at his Crawford ranch.

Bush vowed the United States would continue to "consult with people who share our interest to make the world a safer place." He also said his administration would "look at all options" on how to deal with Iraq, including "all technologies available to us and diplomacy and intelligence."

"One thing is for certain, is that this administration agrees that Saddam Hussein is a threat," he said.

"We will continue to talk with the people concerned about peace, how to secure the peace and those who are needed in consultation. Not only will we consult with friends and allies, [but] we'll consult members of Congress."

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Bush made his comments even as he has faced increasing opposition at home and from U.S. allies about any potential war with Iraq.

The president emphasized he has no war plans at this time and that he is in no rush to make a decision.

"When I say I'm a patient man, I mean I'm a patient man," he said, with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at his side.

Bush said the subject of Iraq "didn't come up" at the Wednesday meeting, which focused the Defense Department budget, contingency planning and transforming the military.

Among those in attendance: Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

One of the top military personnel not present was Gen. Tommy Franks, the head of U.S. Central Command who would lead any military action against Iraq.

Franks was in Kazakhstan, where he told reporters he was drawing up contingency plans for Iraq to give Bush "credible options."

Bush and Rumsfeld both played down those comments, saying the CentCom commander was only following routine orders.

"One of the jobs that the secretary of defense has tasked to members of his general staff is to prepare for all contingencies," Bush said.

Rumsfeld said that within the last 30 days, he has asked at least three U.S. combat commanders, including Franks, to come up with "various types of contingency plans in totally different parts of the world."

"That's my job, that's their job," he said.

Bush praised Rumsfeld for his ideas on how to transform the nation's military to continue to fight the war on terrorism.

"This terrorist network is global in nature, and they may strike anywhere, and therefore, we have got to be prepared to use our military and all the other assets at our disposal in a way to keep the peace," the president said.




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