In response to reporters asking if Operation Iraqi Freedom might last months, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer today condemned the media for assuming that an invasion of Iraq was a foregone conclusion. "I think it's premature to ask how long a war will last before the President has even decided whether to attack [Iraq]," Fleischer said, reiterating comments made by Bush on Wednesday. "The United States is still pursuing every diplomatic channel available in the hopes of averting a war." Fleischer cited recents meetings between US military forces and the Republican Guard in and around Basra as proof that the US was "earnestly engaging the regime in the hopes of finding a peaceful solution to the crisis". He also pointed out that, as recently as March 19th, the United States sent a number of envoys into Saddam's bunker in an effort to interact with the Iraqi leader directly. "The President will make a decision regarding a possible invasion only if our current campaign of aggressive peace negotiations fail," Fleischer stated. "War is our last resort."