Wednesday, December 15, 2004

McCain attacks Rumsfeld on Iraq

Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 December, 2004, 17:52 GMT

McCain has made disparaging remarks about Rumsfeld beforeThe outspoken Republican Senator John McCain has said he has "no confidence" in Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld over his handling of the war in Iraq.

Mr McCain said there were "strong differences of opinion" between the two men, particularly over troop numbers.

But he refused to call for Mr Rumsfeld to resign, saying who was in the team was up to President George Bush.

Mr Rumsfeld faced a public grilling from his own troops when he visited a US base in Kuwait last week.

The BBC's correspondent at the Pentagon, Nick Childs, says those complaints have continued to reverberate in Washington and the latest attack has put Mr Rumsfeld back in the focus of controversy.

'More troops'

In an interview with the Associated Press news agency, Mr McCain was asked whether he was confident in the secretary's leadership.

He said he remembered responding to a similar question recently: "I said no. My answer is still no. No confidence," he said, according to the agency.

Mr McCain said he believed a further 80,000 army personnel and 20,000 to 30,000 more marines were needed to secure Iraq.

"I have strenuously argued for larger troop numbers in Iraq, including the right kind of troops - linguists, special forces, civil affairs, etc.," Mr McCain said.

"There are very strong differences of opinion between myself and Secretary Rumsfeld on that issue."

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