President Bush will huddle with top diplomats and military advisers Monday on the inaugural day of a Mideast truce, with a list of challenges spreading far beyond the fighting between Hezbollah and Israel.

While that deadly battle has dominated headlines and the attention of the administration’s diplomatic team, sectarian violence has surged in Iraq and created what some consider the greatest threat to stability there since Saddam Hussein’s regime was toppled three years ago.

Nearly 12,000 U.S. and Iraqi soldiers are being sent into Baghdad to curb the surge.

Meanwhile, efforts to get North Korea and Iran to restrict their nuclear ambitions remained stalled.

The issues are at the top of the agenda as Bush travels Monday morning to the Pentagon to meet with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other military advisers. He then planned to have lunch with what the White House described as a panel of experts on Iraq, although further details about the participants had not been announced.

In the afternoon, Bush was moving to the State Department to meet with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and his foreign policy team. He also planned to speak to reporters after wrapping up.

The sessions are the first of several that Bush plans this week with key advisers. Tuesday, he was to meet with his homeland security team at the National Counterterrorism Center in McLean, Va. Friday, he scheduled a summit with economic advisers at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.

Bush usually holds the meetings each August at his ranch near Crawford, Texas. But with the pressing issues abroad and his party at risk of losing control of Congress in the November elections, Bush limited his time away from the White House this summer.


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