Gates, Rice discuss contractors

Oct. 31, 2007 at 3:46 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- In a meeting at the Pentagon Tuesday Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates discussed private contractors in Iraq.

Officials say at the top of the items discussed between Rice and Gates in the first meeting since their return from a Defense Department fact-finding panel in Iraq were proposals concerning control and coordination of private contractors in Iraq, the American Forces Press Service reported.

Rice and Gates, who expect any new recommendations will be in place by Thanksgiving, found common ground agreeing that the two departments must come to common standards, rules for the use of force and thorough coordination of all contractor movements.

Pentagon officials also say Rice and Gates agreed that the Multi-National Force-Iraq needs to be more involved in all contractor operations as recommended by a work group co-chaired by Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England and Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, who are investigating potentially better ways to supervise contractors in war zones.

The working group is scheduled to travel to Baghdad next month and later present recommendations to U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker and Army Gen. David A. Petraeus.

“I don’t want to present a problem where there is none,” Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said in a statement. "The working group has made great strides in making some general understandings of the way forward, and we do not anticipate there being problems down the line.”

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