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Debate group seeks answers on schedule

WASHINGTON -- The cochairmen of the nonpartisan presidential debate commission told representatives for President Bush and Senator John F. Kerry yesterday that they must act immediately to complete details for the debates, the first scheduled in just over two weeks.

The Kerry campaign agreed last month to the commission's proposal for venues, dates, and moderators for three debates involving the presidential candidates and one for the vice presidential candidates. However, the Bush campaign has not said if it will agree to the proposals.

The Commission on Presidential Debates could meet at any time this week but must convene by Monday, cochairmen Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr. and Paul G. Kirk Jr. wrote in a letter. They said the schools hosting the debates and state governments are incurring significant costs.

"They cannot wait any longer for confirmation that these historic events will go forward as planned," the commissioners wrote to Bush debate negotiator James A. Baker III and Kerry negotiator Vernon E. Jordan.

The Bush campaign did not return a call seeking comment on the letter. A Kerry campaign spokeswoman, Christine Anderson, said yesterday, "We expect things to be moving forward in the coming days."

The first debate is proposed for Sept. 30 at the University of Miami.

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