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Biden wants Rice to testify on Iraq policy

Story Highlights

• NEW: Biden also seeking testimony from experts outside the administration
• NEW: Three weeks of hearings about the Iraq war to begin in January
• NEW: Rice has not responded to request to testify on Iraq
• NEW: Biden opposes sending more troops to Iraq
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Joseph Biden, the incoming chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said he has invited Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to testify during three weeks of hearings in January about the Iraq war.

Biden, a Delaware Democrat, told reporters Tuesday that the proponents of different plans for Iraq will be invited to the hearings that are to begin on January 9.

He also will call former secretaries of state, academics, Iraq Study Group members and other witnesses from outside the administration as the committee examines various approaches to the war.

The bipartisan Iraq Study Group, comprising five Democrats and five Republicans, recommended this month that the United States pull out of Iraq by 2008.

Rice has not announced whether she will appear before the committee, primarily because President Bush has not announced his plans regarding Iraq.

Bush is expected to tell the nation in January what changes in strategy or policy he intends to make.

Biden said the president has not yet reached out to Capitol Hill leaders to discuss ideas.

Biden said he opposes adding troops in Iraq. The Iraq Study Group recommended adding troops to the 140,000 U.S. in the country. And there have been signs that the administration favors putting more troops in Baghdad as a way to curb the escalating violence there.

On Tuesday, smoke engulfed Baghdad after three car bombs exploded at a busy intersection. (Watch some of Tuesday's violence in Iraq Video)

Biden said a "troop surge" will not work.

"We should be drawing down troops gradually, forcing the Iraqis to meet their own needs to end this civil war by a political agreement," Biden said Tuesday on CNN's "American Morning."

Biden has said he favors partitioning Iraq, something the Iraq Study Group and military leaders oppose.

Bush and Iraq Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki have said they agree that Iraq should not be partitioned along sectarian lines into semi-autonomous regions for the Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites.



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