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Bush: U.S. could "easily" be in Iraq for 10 years

A resident greets a U.S. soldier from the 2nd Brigade combat team, 82nd Airborne Division standing guard in Baghdad's Adhamiya district, January 5, 2008. REUTERS/Mahmoud Raouf Mahmoud

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush said on Friday the United States would have a long-term presence in Iraq that could “easily” last a decade, but that it would be at the invitation of the Iraqi government.

In an interview with NBC News, Bush was asked about recent comments by Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain that it would be fine with him to have a U.S. military presence in Iraq for 100 years.

“That’s a long time,” Bush replied, adding that there “could very well be” a long-term U.S. presence in Iraq at the invitation of the government in Baghdad. When asked if it could be 10 years, Bush replied: “It could easily be that, absolutely.”

Bush was interviewed in Jerusalem as he was wrapping up his first presidential visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories.