Defense secretary says U.S. may need to pause in drawdown of troops from Iraq

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By ROBERT BURNS

AP Military Writer

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Monday publicly endorsed, for the first time, the idea of a pause in the drawdown of U.S. forces from Iraq this summer.

"The brief period of consolidation and evaluation probably does make sense," he told reporters after a meeting with Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq.

"In my own thinking I have been kind of headed in that direction as well," Gates said. "One of the keys is: How long is that period? And then what happens after that?"

Gates said those decisions ultimately rest with President Bush.