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NATO chief arrives in Texas for 2 days of talks with Bush

CRAWFORD, Texas -- President Bush welcomed the NATO secretary-general to his home here yesterday for two days of meetings focusing on holding together the fragile coalition fighting in Afghanistan and on dealing with new tensions with an assertive Russia.

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Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer arrived at Bush's 1,583-acre property late yesterday afternoon for what aides said would be a working dinner with the president and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates was expected to arrive later yesterday.

De Hoop Scheffer and Bush and their aides will conduct more talks today.

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Tony Fratto, a deputy White House spokesman, said the civilian casualties and their effect on public support for the mission inside and outside Afghanistan would be high on the agenda. "We understand that any time you have civilian deaths, that can erode support from the population," Fratto said.


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