Bush aides cautious on moving U.S. Embassy in Israel
'No exit date' for U.S. troops in Balkans, Powell says
Sounding a more cautious tone on issues President George W. Bush trumpeted during last year's presidential campaign, Powell also said U.S. troops will not leave Bosnia or Kosovo "in the immediate future."
As a candidate, George W. Bush declared he would move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Bush also questioned the commitment of U.S. troops abroad, saying the United States was entangled in too many international conflicts.
But speaking on ABC's "This Week," Powell said there are no immediate plans to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv, but the administration was "studying it." He suggested the violence in the Middle East, along with Tuesday's election in Israel, take precedence.
In an interview with CNN, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice echoed Powell's statements. Speaking on "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer," Rice said there was no timetable for the embassy move, which is a sensitive matter because of Palestinian claims to parts of Jerusalem.
"Part of the process will be to talk to friends in the region to assess the possibilities of doing this," Rice said. "But the commitment remains. The question of exactly when and how, I think, has to be judged within the context in which we find ourselves."
Bush spoke in more definitive terms when he was a candidate.
"As soon as I take office, I will begin the process of moving the U.S. ambassador to the city Israel has chosen as its capital," Bush said last May.
'We're not cutting and running'
On the question of the Balkans, Powell said there are plans to "gradually draw down" the number of U.S. troops in the region, but he did not say when.
"There is no exit date for the whole force, either in Bosnia or Kosovo," Powell said on ABC. "Those will be long-term commitments of NATO.
"The question is what is the proper U.S. role, how many troops should remain," Powell added. "We are committed to peace in the Balkans, both in Bosnia and Kosovo, and although (we) would like to see all of the troops come out, ours and others, this is not going to be the case in the immediate future."
Powell also said the NATO commitment could last "for years" and that any restructuring of U.S. forces there would be done in consultation with allies.
"We're not cutting and running," Powell said. "We don't have a date certain where all U.S. troops come out. We understand that we went in with NATO and we can't simply walk out of NATO. We are part of a great alliance that we believe is still the bedrock of security in Europe."
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