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Bill for troop withdrawal from Iraq okayed

world Updated: Nov 15, 2007 13:02 IST

The US House of Representatives passed a bill that would allocate $50 billion for the Iraq war and require President George W Bush to start troop withdrawal from Iraq in coming weeks with a goal of ending combat by mid December 2008.

However, the legislation that was passed 218-203 by the House Wednesday night was considered as merely a symbolic defiance of Bush's war policies, since the White House has pledged to veto the bill, and Republican congressmen vowed to back the president.

"The fact is, we can no longer sustain the military deployment in Iraq," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat. "Staying there in the manner that we are there is no longer an option."

However, the White House said in a statement that the votes for the bill, "like the dozens of previous failed votes, put the interests of radical interest groups ahead of the needs of our military and their mission."

The bill only authorised about a quarter of the $196 billion that Bush has requested for war spending in Iraq and Afghanistan in the fiscal year 2008 starting October 1.

But it demanded that the government begin to order troop withdrawal from Iraq within 30 days and end combat by December 15, 2008.

The money included in the bill should be used to re-deploy troops and "not to extent or prolong the war", it added.

Apart from the timetable of troop withdrawal, the bill also called for government-wide standards on interrogation to bar the Central Intelligence Agency from using harsh techniques.