Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., a Republican presidential candidate, said Wednesday that he is talking with Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., a Senate colleague who is also running for president, about the possibility of teaming up to offer bipartisan legislation that would pursue a "three-state/one-country" solution for Iraq.
"You need a political as well as a military solution for Iraq," said Brownback, who believes that the Bush administration is pursuing a strategy in Iraq that is "dominated by the military and Maliki," Iraq's prime minister.
Biden originally offered his "unity through autonomy" idea for Iraq's Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds in a May 1, 2006, op-ed in The New York Times, which he co-wrote with Leslie Gelb of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Brownback made his comments in Washington, D.C., during a breakfast meeting with reporters sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor.
Bipartisan Approach to Contentious Issue
"Sen. Biden is obviously open to discussions with anyone about how to move Iraq toward a political solution that gets our troops home and leaves behind a stable Iraq," Biden spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander told ABC News while noting that she was not familiar with any particular discussion between the two senators.
Brownback, who opposed the recent troop surge in Iraq but is against setting a specific timetable for withdrawal, said he has sent Biden a draft of what he would like the legislation to look like.
He would ideally like to offer it even before President Bush makes good on his promise to veto a war funding bill containing a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal.
The Kansas Republican cautioned, however, that his discussions with Biden are still preliminary and no deal has been reached.
Under the terms of the plan that Biden and Gelb outlined last year, power in Iraq would be decentralized, oil revenue would be shared, economic aid would be increased, a regional conference would be convened, and the military would be asked to plan to withdraw most U.S. forces from Iraq by 2008 while refocusing the mission of a small residual force on counterterrorism and training Iraqis.
Following the breakfast, Brownback acknowledged that it would be difficult to implement a "three-state/one-country" solution in Baghdad where Iraq's warring groups are not as neatly separated as they are in other parts of the country.
He believes, however, that Iraq's capital can be divided neighborhood by neighborhood with Sunnis in charge in some places and Shiites in charge in others.
"I wish it didn't have to be that way," Brownback told ABC News. "But it's the nature of human history."