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UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Monday held meetings with Iraqi leaders and urged them to deal with the root cause of the violence in Anbar province. At a joint press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, Xinhua quoted Ban as saying, "I would urge the Iraqi leaders to address the root that causes the problem. They should ensure that nobody was left behind to reach a political cohesion, social cohesion and inclusive political dialogue." President Barack Obama on Monday rejected criticism from former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who questioned whether the president supported his own policy toward Afghanistan. Answering questions during an Oval Office appearance, Obama said Gates was an outstanding defense secretary and that because of the strategy that the Obama administration formulated, the United States will have concluded combat operations in Afghanistan by the end of this year. "I think what's important is that we got the policy right but that this is hard and it always has been," Obama said. New Jersey lawmakers said Monday they will form a special investigative committee, with the power to order testimony from witnesses, to probe the George Washington Bridge lane closures that have exploded into a scandal for Gov. Chris Christie. There had been questions about whether the Assembly’s power to subpoena witnesses and documents would expire this week. But the incoming Assembly speaker, Vincent Prieto, pledged his support and said the committee would also be given a special counsel. Documents unearthed by that committee and released last week made it appear that Christie’s now-fired deputy chief of staff and Christie appointees at the Port Authority, which controls the bridge, ordered the lane closures as an act of political payback.