The breaking news of the day from Iraq was an agreement between President George Bush and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that there should be a schedule--they used the phrase "time horizon" instead of timetable--for the United States to withdraw combat forces from Iraq. Richard Engel covered the agreement for NBC from Afghanistan while ABC's Martha Raddatz (no link) handled the story from the White House. Engel explained that al-Maliki can now assure his people that there "will not be permanent US bases and there will not be a permanent combat mission in Iraq." As for Bush, Raddatz saw him making a "real compromise" in that he refused to accept "arbitrary" dates for a troop withdrawal "but there are dates mentioned" for Iraqi security forces to take control. CBS mentioned the agreement only in passing.
NBC's Andrea Mitchell was in Baghdad in anticipation of candidate Obama's arrival. She asked Petraeus whether a 16-month troop withdrawal timetable was "reasonable." The general's answer: "It depends." Mitchell found life safer in some Baghdad neighborhoods "even though not in many parts of the country." She predicted that Obama will receive more support from Iraq's political leaders for his troops-out plan than from the Bush Administration. ABC's advance guard for Obama was in Afghanistan, where the candidate advocates a troop reinforcement. Jim Sciutto (embargoed link) found that the Afghan War is in reality two wars: an eastern front along the Pakistani border against a coalition of Pakistani militants, Taliban guerrillas and al-Qaeda fighters; and a southern front against the Taliban proper.
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