Gates Sambas Out of Latin American Tour
Stays home to bolster Iraq war support after GOP desertions
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 9, 2007 5:35 AM CDT
In this picture taken 04 June 2007, US Secretary of Defense Robert...   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Defense Secretary Robert Gates canceled a tour of Latin America just hours before he was set to depart in an effort to help shore up faltering support for the Iraq War, Bloomberg reports. Gates will stay home to prepare for the administration's July 15 update to Congress on the progress of the 30,000-strong troop surge aimed at stabilizing Baghdad.

The administration's position on the war has become more precarious in the past week, with key Republicans joining Democrats in calling for a change of strategy. "There's no conceivable way'' the Iraqi government will meet its benchmarks, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told CNN, as several top GOP lawmakers called for a plan that would begin a withdrawal as early as March 2008.