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Tuesday, March 7

Editor's Note: The CNN Wire is a running log of the latest news from CNN World Headquarters, reported by CNN's correspondents and producers, and The CNN Wire editors.

Police find bodies of strangled men in Baghdad neighborhood

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- The bodies of 18 men were found strangled with their hands tied behind their backs late Tuesday in western Baghdad, an official with Baghdad Emergency Police told CNN.

According to the official, police discovered the bodies in a Kia minibus around 11 p.m. (3 p.m. ET) in the Amiriya neighborhood. The men were of various ages and could not be immediately identified. -- CNN Producers Mohammed Tawfeeq and Cal Perry contributed to this story. (Posted 1:31 a.m.)

Bush's budget slashes funding for Christopher and Dana Reeve paralysis center

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Among the health care programs that President Bush's 2007 budget slashes is the funding for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center, the president of the Christopher Reeve Foundation said Tuesday.

"The president's budget did come out without funding for the resource center, which really was Dana's dream," Kathy Lewis told CNN's "Larry King Live."

Dana Reeve, the widow of the late actor Christopher Reeve, died of lung cancer at the age of 44 Monday night. Lewis said her death made Bush's budget cuts doubly painful.

"It was so important to her to make sure that, when people had a spinal cord injury or any kind of paralysis, they had a place to go for information. This really was her dream to have happen," Lewis said. "So, in light of the president cutting it out of the budget, and in light of Dana's death yesterday, it is even more tragic."

The Paralysis Resource Center -- a program Dana founded through the Christopher Reeve Foundation after her husband's debilitating horseback riding accident -- is a "comprehensive, national source of information for people living with paralysis and their caregivers to promote health, foster involvement in the community and improve quality of life," according to its Web site. (Posted 1 a.m.)

Sheryl Crow's ex-beau: 'She's the strongest woman I've met'

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Grammy Award-winning singer Sheryl Crow is "doing great" in her battle with breast cancer about two weeks after she underwent surgery to treat it, her former boyfriend Lance Armstrong told CNN Tuesday.

"She's the strongest woman I've ever met. She's got great doctors and her prognosis is close to 100 percent," said Armstrong, who remains close to the singer even after their high-profile split last month.

"I'm 100 percent confident she'll recover. I know that woman, I think, better than anybody, except perhaps her parents and her family."

Armstrong made the comments on CNN's "Larry King Live" in an appearance to discuss the death of Dana Reeve, the widow of the late actor Christopher Reeve who died of lung cancer.

"It's not been a good week for me in getting news like this," Armstrong said referring to Reeve's death so soon after learning of Crow's cancer.

"Once again, we're reminded that this illness is just way too common and way too prevalent, and it strikes people that we never think that it will strike." (posted 11:58 p.m.)

DeLay beats back 3 challengers in Texas GOP primary

HOUSTON (CNN) -- Despite being indicted and relegated to the back benches, Rep. Tom DeLay's political stock remained strong enough with the folks back home for him to win Tuesday night's primary election in his Houston-area district.

The Associated Press projected DeLay the winner of the GOP primary in the 22nd District, centered in the southeastern Houston suburbs. The former House majority leader was carrying about 64 percent of the vote against three GOP challengers, according to the Texas Secretary of State's Office.

Tuesday's primary was closely watched because it was DeLay's first electoral test since he was indicted on state criminal charges in September and stepped down as House majority leader. (Posted 11:15 p.m.)

'Shaft' director Gordon Parks dead at 93

(CNN) -- Gordon Parks, whose 1971 hit detective movie "Shaft" made him the leading African-American director in the U.S. film industry, died Tuesday at age 93, relatives and associates said.

Parks died "very peacefully" with his two daughters and son by his side, publicist Joanna Fiore told CNN. "He lived a wonderful, wonderful life and was all about contributing to humanity."

A former Life magazine photographer, Parks got his break as a filmmaker in 1969, when director John Cassavettes helped produce his autobiographical study of racism in small-town Kansas, "The Learning Tree." He became the first black person to direct a major studio feature film.

But "Shaft" cemented his reputation: Richard Rountree's starring role as a Harlem private eye made him the movies' first black action hero and spawned numerous cheap imitators in what later became known as the "blaxpoitation" genre. (Posted 8:44 p.m.)

House GOP leader warns of veto showdown over Dubai port deal

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- House members might set up a veto confrontation with President Bush, by attaching legislation to delay or block the controversial Dubai Ports World deal to a $70 billion measure to pay for the war in Iraq, Majority Leader John Boehner warned Tuesday.

Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters the controversy has become "a big political problem" and he wished it would "go away." Another top Republican congressman introduced a bill Tuesday that would keep ownership of "critical infrastructure" -- such as the cargo terminals at the center of the controversy -- in American hands.

And the Senate's top Democrat accused the White House of being "asleep at the switch" when it approved DP World's purchase of Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation, the British company that now runs the terminals in question.

But the company's chairman, Sultan Bin Sulayem, told CNN in an exclusive interview Tuesday that security is "very important to us."

The merger would place DP World, a state-owned venture of the United Arab Emirates, in charge of some terminals at six seaports in the eastern United States. (Posted 8:40 p.m.)

Cleveland Cavaliers point guard questioned in 'possible sex offense'

(CNN) -- Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Damon Jones on Tuesday confirmed he was cooperating with police after a complaint was filed accusing him of what authorities called a "possible sex offense."

Westlake, Ohio, police released a written statement in which they said they were investigating the alleged incident last Friday night. The complainant, they said, was from another state and had not been interviewed by their agency.

"It is unclear at this time what behavior (if any) took place in Westlake and whether that behavior constitutes an offense," the police statement said. "One person who may have had some role in the matter is a professional athlete.

"I'm fully aware of the false accusations," Jones said. "I'm cooperating fully with the Westlake police, and I'm really sure and 1,000 percent positive that after this investigation is over, I'll be fully vindicated."

Jones, 29, left the Miami Heat last summer and signed a four-year, $16-million deal with the Cavs, according to (Posted 8:15 p.m.)

House sends Patriot Act renewal to Bush

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The House of Representatives voted Tuesday evening to renew controversial provisions of the USA Patriot Act, sending the antiterrorist measure to President Bush for his promised signature.

The 16 provisions had been set to expire Friday. A reluctant Senate had bottled them up in December when a bipartisan group of senators sought to rein in some of the authority Congress gave law enforcement after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.

Bush, along with top Justice Department and FBI officials, lobbied hard for renewal of the act, calling it a vital tool in the battle against terrorism.

Among the most hotly debated provisions are those allowing roving wiretaps for suspects with multiple phones, and a section that allows federal investigators to get access to library, business and medical records without a court order. (Posted 7:55 p.m.)

Republican senators propose limits, oversight of warrantless surveillance

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Four Senate Republicans have proposed a bill to provide what one called "very rigorous oversight" of President Bush's controversial warrantless surveillance program and place limits on its use.

Sens. Mike DeWine of Ohio, Olympia Snowe of Maine, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, all members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, introduced the bill late Tuesday afternoon in an effort to address criticism of the program and reach a compromise.

The measure would create terrorist surveillance subcommittees under both the Senate and House intelligence committees to oversee the program.

The current process allows the National Security Administration to monitor calls into, or out of, the United States when suspected terrorists are on the line -- without first obtaining a warrant from a special court under the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

According to DeWine, Tuesday's bill would allow surveillance of international calls that involve a suspected terrorist, but would require a program review every 45 days, in addition to other restrictions. (Posted 7:47 p.m.)

Prosecutors liken Moussaoui to hijackers; defense denies link

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CNN) -- Prosecutors and defense attorneys Tuesday began presenting warring portraits of Zacarias Moussaoui, the man faced with a potential death penalty for conspiring with al Qaeda to crash airplanes into prominent American buildings.

With testimony from two expert FBI agents, prosecutors described how Moussaoui fits into the history of the terrorist organization and how his actions mirrored those of the 19 hijackers who commandeered four passenger jets that crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Shanksville, Pa., field on Sept. 11, 2001.

But defense attorneys, questioning the same witnesses, sought to portray Moussaoui as having no direct contact with the hijackers and show him as deviating from al Qaeda's playbook. (Posted 7:44 p.m.)

Google lets financial projections slip during analyst presentation

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Search engine Google inadvertently posted statements about sales projections on the company's Investor Relations Web site during a presentation for analysts last week, the company disclosed to federal regulators Tuesday.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Google said its slides showed expected revenue to grow from $6 billion in 2005 to $9.5 billion this year, and profit margins in its AdSense business would "be squeezed in 2006 and beyond."

The figures came from notes prepared during the fourth quarter of 2005 for an internal strategy presentation and were erroneously included in a slide accompanying the analyst day Webcast, it said. (Posted 7:40 p.m.)

Russians: Hamas would adopt road map if Israel withdrew reservations

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Russian officials said Tuesday that during recent meetings in Moscow, senior Hamas officials said they were willing to "sign on" to the "road map" for Middle East peace if Israel would also do so without conditions.

At the time Israel agreed to the road map, the Russian officials said, it did so with "reservations," including that it would not promise to return to its 1967 borders, would not admit all Palestinian refugees, would not agree to allow Jerusalem to be the Palestinian capital, and would not cease all settlement construction activity.

The road map is the outline for peace proposed by the Middle East Quartet -- Russia, the United Nations, the European Union and the United States. (Posted 7:20 p.m.)

Police question bouncer from bar where 24-year-old last seen

NEW YORK (CNN) -- New York police are questioning a bouncer from the bar where 24-year-old graduate student Imette St. Guillen was last seen in connection with her rape and killing.

The bouncer, Darryl Littlejohn, is being held by police at Brooklyn's 75th Precinct on a parole violation related to a previous conviction, the state parole office confirmed Tuesday. Police on Monday searched his home in Queens. Littlejohn has not been charged in connection with the slaying.

Police say St. Guillen went to The Falls bar after leaving a friend around 3:30 a.m. Feb. 25, and left the bar around 4 a.m. Seventeen hours later her naked body, wrapped in a bedspread, was found on the side of a service road near the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn. She had been raped and strangled, and a sock was stuffed into her throat. Her face was covered in horizontal strips of transparent tan packing tape and her long brown hair had been cut. -- From CNN Producer Sophie Sohn (Posted 7:08 p.m.)

More than 6 months later, more bodies

NEW ORLEANS (CNN) -- Officials said Tuesday they found yet another body of a victim from last August's flooding in New Orleans' lower 9th Ward, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

The body was found behind a house by a man who had been digging for scrap metal, the state medical examiner said.

The body was taken to the Orleans Parish coroner's officer, where investigators planned to use DNA technology to identify it.

Earlier in the day, another body was found in the upper 9th Ward by someone who was looking for old refrigerators among the rubble that remains from last summer's storm, police said. --From CNN's Sean Callebs (Posted at 6:30 p.m.)

House GOP leader warns of veto showdown over Dubai port deal

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- House members might set up a veto confrontation with President Bush by attaching legislation to delay or block the controversial Dubai Ports World deal to a $70 billion measure to pay for the war in Iraq, Majority Leader John Boehner warned Tuesday.

Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters the controversy has become "a big political problem" and he wished it would "go away."

Another top Republican congressman introduced a bill Tuesday that would keep ownership of "critical infrastructure" -- such as the cargo terminals at the center of the controversy -- in American hands.

And the Senate's top Democrat blasted the Bush administration's handling of the matter, accusing the White House of being "asleep at the switch" when it approved DP World's purchase of Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation, the British company that now runs the terminals in question. (Posted 6:20 p.m.)

Rumsfeld: Iranian government supports forces crossing into Iraq

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Iranian government is sending people into Iraq in an effort to disrupt operations there, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Tuesday in his strongest comments on the subject to date.

"I will say this about Iran," Rumsfeld said in a Pentagon briefing. "They are currently putting people into Iraq to do things that are harmful to the future of Iraq. And we know it. And it is something that they, I think, will look back on as having been an error in judgment."

He described those people as "Iranian Quds-force-type people ... the Revolutionary Guard force."

Asked what kind of harm they pose to Iraq -- actual violence or political disruption -- Rumsfeld said, "I don't think we could consider them religious pilgrims." (Posted 4:35 p.m.)

CIA opposes document demand from indicted former aide to vice president

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The CIA is fighting any release of highly classified White House papers that would be used to defend Lewis "Scooter" Libby, an indicted former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, according to court records released Tuesday.

Libby, Cheney's onetime chief of staff, is charged with five counts of perjury, obstruction and lying to the FBI regarding how he learned the identity of intelligence operative Valerie Plame, and what he did with the information. His defense lawyers have asked a judge to let them review notes from sensitive White House meetings as a way to learn whether Libby's testimony was distracted by urgent national security matters.

The CIA said it would be a stark security risk and a tremendous burden -- involving "time-consuming and painstaking research and analysis" -- to compile the notes, known as the president's daily briefs (PDBs).

Libby's attorneys, in a formal response to be filed with the court, wrote, "It is astonishing that the CIA cannot readily locate and produce the PDB materials." --From CNN's Paul Courson (Posted 3:50 p.m.)

District attorney files attempted manslaughter, weapons charge against deputy in shooting of unarmed Iraq war vet

(CNN) -- A sheriff's deputy who was seen on videotape shooting an unarmed Iraq war veteran after a car chase in San Bernardino, Calif., is being charged with attempted voluntary manslaughter and other charges, the county's district attorney announced Tuesday.

District Attorney Michael Ramos said the deputy also faces weapons charges in the case. The deputy could be sentenced to 18 years in prison if convicted of the charges, Ramos said.

An internal sheriff's department investigation into the shooting continues, said Sheriff Gary Penrod. The deputy remains on paid administrative leave until that investigation is complete. (Posted 1:10 p.m.)

1 killed, 3 injured after train hits dump truck

(CNN) -- One person was killed Tuesday and three others were injured when a train hit a dump truck on the tracks in Yukon, Okla., officials said.

Deputy Chief Tony Young with Oklahoma City Fire Department said 25 to 30 cars of the train, including the engine, derailed in the crash.

The dump truck driver was pronounced dead at the scene, Young said, and three people in the train's engine were injured, one critically. (Posted 12:52 p.m.)

Rumsfeld: News reports after mosque bombing were 'exaggerated'

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Tuesday slammed the news reporting of the sectarian violence that erupted in Iraq since the Feb. 22 bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra, arguing that media reports about the number of attacks and the nature of sectarian strife were overblown and inaccurate.

Rumsfeld, speaking at a press conference with Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made the conclusions from comments made last week by Gen. George Casey, the top-ranking U.S. military official in Iraq.

On Friday, Casey cited death-toll and mosque-bombing figures that were lower than those tallied by local officials. He said on Friday the military confirmed about 30 mosque attacks and about 350 civilian deaths. Figures from local officials at that time, cited by CNN, reported more than 100 mosque attacks and at least 500 deaths. (Posted 12:46 p.m.)

Thieves target cash transfer at Swedish airport

(CNN) -- Thieves crashed a gate at a Swedish airport Tuesday and robbed a security van as workers were loading cash that had flown in on a plane from London, a spokeswoman for the Gothenburg police told CNN.

Anna Rosenburg said the thieves slammed through a gate in a Volvo and a Jeep Cherokee and drove up to the plane where airport authorities were guarding the transfer.

The money -- Rosenburg said the sender and destination were unknown -- was being transferred onto a Securitas van. Securitas is the Swedish security company victimized in the $92 million cash deport robbery in Britain last month.(Posted 12:06 p.m.)

3 at al-Sadr office in Baquba gunned down

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Three members of the Baquba office of firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr were killed and another was wounded in a drive-by shooting on Tuesday, officials said.

An official with the Diyala Joint Coordination Center said the al-Sadr people were in a car when they were attacked.

Al-Sadr's Mehdi Army militia fought U.S. troops two years ago. The militia has been out in force on the streets of Baghdad's Sadr City and other places during the recent wave of sectarian violence in Iraq. --From Producer Mohammed Tawfeeq (Posted 11:39 a.m.)

At least 14 dead in Indian blasts

NEW DELHI (CNN) -- Three explosions in the holy Indian city of Varanasi killed at least 14 people and wounded dozens, Indian authorities told CNN.

The first blast was in the Hindu Sankat Mochan temple, Varanasi police told CNN. The idols at the temple are safe, police said. Crowds at the temple are at their peak on Tuesdays.

The other two blasts occurred at a railway station where an express train was boarding, police said. Officials said they are uncertain about the number of casualties there.

There has been no claim of responsibility. (Posted 11:36 a.m.)

Rice, Lavrov deny new Russian proposal for Iranian nuclear standoff

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, flatly denied that Russia had offered a new proposal that would allow Iran to enrich a small amount of uranium on its soil.

"The Russians did not tell us of any new proposal they made to the Iranians," Rice told reporters after meeting with Lavrov. "We still hope this can be resolved through negotiations ... but its going to require the Iranians to suspend their activities."

Diplomats close to the IAEA told CNN's Matthew Chance that the U.S. had shot down the proposal, which they said Lavrov floated to U.S. officials. (Posted 11:20 a.m.)

3 Iraqi soldiers killed in blast south of Baquba

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Three Iraqi soldiers were killed and another was wounded Tuesday in an explosion in the Diyala province town of Khalis.

An official with the Diyala Joint Coordination Center said a car bomb targeted an army convoy late in the afternoon.

Khalis is nearly 20 miles north of Baquba. --From Producer Mohammed Tawfeeq (Posted 10:56 a.m.)

Five injured in chain reaction wrecks on Florida highway

MIAMI (CNN) -- Five people were injured -- three of them seriously -- in a series of wrecks that involved 11 tractor-trailer rigs and two passenger cars Tuesday on U.S. 27 in Palm Beach County, officials said.

Capt. Don DeLucia of Palm Beach County Fire and Rescue told CNN that heavy fog may have been to blame for the accident, which left trucks and their loads strewn across the four-lane divided highway.

Three of the victims were airlifted immediately to hospitals, he said, and one person -- a driver of a tanker truck that was completely engulfed in flames -- is missing.

DeLucia said a surgeon was called to the scene, possibly to amputate a driver's are so he could be rescued. However, when the driver finally came out on a stretcher, both arms were visible and moving. A bandage was wrapped around his left wrist. (Posted 10:31 a.m.)

Car bombs, other attacks kill 4, wound many in Iraq

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Car bombs and shootings killed four people and wounded two dozen in Iraq on Tuesday, another day of bloodshed in Baghdad and nearby towns.

A car bomb exploded near a U.S. military convoy in western Baghdad, killing one civilian and wounding another around 9 a.m., emergency police said.

In a gunbattle between police and insurgents in western Baghdad, one insurgent was killed, and five police and one insurgent were wounded.

Earlier, gunmen fired on an Iraqi police patrol in eastern Baquba's Tahrir neighborhood, killing one officer and wounding a second, an official with the Diyala Joint Coordination Center said. A few minutes later, a car bomb exploded in the same neighborhood, narrowly missing police but killing a bystander. Baquba is northeast of the capital in Diyala province. (Posted 10:21 a.m.)

Dana Reeve dies of lung cancer

(CNN) -- Dana Reeve, the widow of Christopher Reeve, died Monday night, the Christopher Reeve foundation said Tuesday.

Reeve, 44, announced she had lung cancer in August, less than a year after her husband's death.

She was chairwoman of the foundation, which funds research into treatment and cures for spinal cord injuries, and was remembered as "a great spirit" by fellow board member Kate Michelman.

Christopher Reeve died Oct. 10, 2004, at age 52, after falling into a coma. He had been paralyzed for several years after a horseback riding accident. (Posted 8:29 a.m.)

World Bank to give Palestinians $42M

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- The World Bank announced Tuesday that it will provide a grant of $42 million to the Palestinian Authority to help the government provide basic services. The grant will be made through the bank's Public Financial Management Reform Trust Fund.

Several countries, including the United States, have threatened to cut off their flow of money to the Palestinian Authority since the militant group Hamas won parliamentary elections in January, demanding that Hamas reject violence and abandon its long-standing policy of opposing the existence of Israel in order to prevent that happening.

Israel has already stopped payments of tax revenues it collects for the Palestinians. (Posted 7:37 a.m.)

Blasts injure 4 in Ethiopian capital

(CNN) -- Two explosions rocked downtown Addis Ababa Tuesday, including one outside a hotel that injured four people, according to Cmdr. Demsash Hailu, a spokesman for the Ethiopian Federal Police.

There were no injuries in the second blast, near the capital's main market. The cause of the blasts is not known, Hailu said, and an investigation is under way. (Posted 7:27 a.m.)

Iraqi president asked to delay opening of new Iraqi parliament amid PM nominee dispute

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Another delay of the Iraqi parliament's first session could be in the works as Shiite politicians work to resolve a dispute over the selection of a prime minister for the new government.

Hussein al-Shahristani, vice president of the outgoing transitional national assembly, has asked President Jalal Talabani to postpone the planned opening this weekend of the new session of parliament, according to a high-ranking official from a major Shiite party.

The official, Ridha Jwad Taqi, is from from the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, one of the top parties in the United Iraqi Alliance, the Shiite-led coalition that rules the country in a coalition with the Kurds and received in the most seats in the latest election. (Posted 7:24 a.m.)

U.S. military reports death of detainee at prison in Iraq

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A security detainee at Camp Bucca in southern Iraq died on Tuesday, succumbing from "natural causes," the U.S. military said.

"Detainees in the same compound carried the unconscious detainee to the compound gate and notified the guards. The medical staff immediately began CPR in order to revive the detainee.

"The detainee went into cardiac arrest while in the intensive care unit and died after all life-saving efforts failed to resuscitate him," the military said in a statement. (Posted 6:18 a.m.)

Israeli defense minister: No Palestinian leader immune, if militants resort to violence

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told Army Radio Tuesday that no Palestinian leader would be "immune" if suicide tactics are used against Israel. Jerusalem has killed numerous Palestinian militant leaders through targeted killings in the past, following suicide bombings.

Last week, the Israeli military killed Khaled Dahdoh, a senior military commander for Islamic Jihad, in an airstrike in the heart of Gaza City.

Asked specifically if the new Palestinian PM designate, a member of the Hamas militant group, would be a target, he said:

"If Hamas, a terror organization that does not recognize the agreements with us and decides to choose violence and terror than no one is immune, not just Ismail Haniyeh," he said. (Posted 6:08 a.m.)

3 Christian peace activists shown on tape that airs on Al-Jazeera

(CNN) -- Three of four Christian peace activists kidnapped in Iraq more than three months ago appeared in a video that aired on Al-Jazeera Arabic-language TV network Tuesday.

Although the video shown was silent, an Al-Jazeera anchor said the three men were pleading for their home countries and Gulf Arab leaders to assist with securing their release, during the 25-second tape.

On the tape were British citizen Norman Kember, as well as two Canadians, James Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden. They were among four members of the Christian Peacemakers Team abducted November 26.

The fourth hostage, American Tom Fox, did not appear on the tape and his status was not mentioned.

They were seized by a group that calls itself the Swords of Righteousness Brigade, which has threatened to kill them if Iraqi prisoners held by the United States and Iraq are not released, but several deadlines have passed. (posted 5:45 a.m.)

Australian forces committed to Iraq into 2007

(CNN) -- Australian Defense Minister Brendan Nelson has said his country's troops will remain in Iraq "well into 2007," a spokesman told CNN Tuesday.

"The Australian Government is committed to completing the task at hand in Iraq. While a lot has been achieved, much remains to be done," Nelson said in a statement.

"We will not cut and run until our job is complete and the Iraqi Security Forces can provide protection for their own people," adding Australian forces will help Iraq Iraq rebuild and stabilize the country.

There are about 1,320 Australian troops in Iraq, according to the Australian Department of Defense Web site. (posted 12:10 a.m.)

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