President Convenes Bipartisan Terror Panel

Associated Press
Thursday, March 1, 2007

Despite initial wariness from Democrats, President Bush finally convened a bipartisan working group to advise him on terrorism, sitting down at the White House yesterday to discuss the deteriorating conditions in Afghanistan with senior lawmakers from both parties.

When he unveiled his new Iraq policy in January, Bush mentioned his interest in forming such a group as a way of improving relations with Congress. Democrats initially balked out of concern that Bush would be dictating the subject and the people present, congressional aides said.

What now appears to have emerged is a plan to have regular meetings to discuss key national security issues with an evolving cast of participants from Capitol Hill, according to congressional and White House aides. The first subject to be taken up was Afghanistan, where a resurgent Taliban movement is posing a strong challenge to the government led by Hamid Karzai and the American and European forces trying to help it stabilize the country.

As described by people present yesterday, the initial meeting lasted more than an hour and included presentations from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Cheney, who briefed lawmakers on his just-completed trip to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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