Rumsfeld cancels plan to join Bush at NATO summit in Europe

WASHINGTON (AP) – Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has dropped plans to join President Bush at a NATO summit this month in Latvia, in light of his announced resignation, a Rumsfeld spokesman said Monday.

The Pentagon will instead be represented at the meeting by Eric Edelman, the undersecretary of defense for policy, according to Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Karen Finn. Other officials had said earlier Monday that Gordon England, the deputy secretary of defense, might fill in for Rumsfeld at the summit meeting.

The NATO summit is Nov. 28-29 in the Latvian capital of Riga.

Pentagon press secretary Eric Ruff reaffirmed that Rumsfeld plans to remain at his post until his successor is confirmed by the Senate. Bush last week announced that he is nominating former CIA director Robert M. Gates to replace Rumsfeld, but no confirmation hearing date has been announced. Ruff said it could happen as early as the week of Dec. 4.

Keeping to his schedule Monday, Rumsfeld hosted a ceremony installing Gen. James Conway as the new commandant of the Marine Corps, replacing Gen. Michael Hagee, who is retiring.

The Pentagon has refused to release the letter of resignation that Rumsfeld submitted to Bush. Ruff said Rumsfeld did not mind if the White House released it. At the White House, spokesman Gordon Johndroe said there was no plan to release it.

Ruff said Gates and Rumsfeld might have a discussion later this week about the coming transition, but he had no specifics.

On the day Bush announced Gates as his choice to replace Rumsfeld, Gates called England and asked him to remain as the No. 2 at the Pentagon, according to an official who discussed the matter on condition of anonymity. England agreed to stay for an indefinite period, the official said.

Other senior Pentagon officials, however, are expected to leave. None has publicly announced a departure plan.