Thursday, October 09, 2003



WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld canceled a news conference Thursday in part to avoid questions about whether the White House recently reduced his role in Iraq's reconstruction, Pentagon and NATO officials said.

The White House said Monday it is creating an Iraq Stabilization Group to be headed by national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. The group will be responsible for handling the day-to-day administration of Iraq, a task previously handled by the Pentagon.

Rumsfeld was scheduled to brief reporters at a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Colorado. He was questioned at Wednesday's NATO press briefing about his relationship with Rice, a memo she circulated establishing the new Iraq Stabilization Group, and whether he was "in the loop."

The defense secretary has "said everything he has to say about it," Pentagon officials said.