Iraq's interim prime minister, Iyad Allawi, says hopes are fading for a peaceful end to the standoff in the town of Fallujah, which is controlled by insurgents.
Mr. Allawi told reporters his government has been asked by the people of Fallujah to liberate them from what he described as the terrorists and insurgents who have taken them hostage.
U.S. forces are poised to launch an attack on the town, and Mr. Allawi says time is running out for a peaceful solution to end the insurgency there.
"The window is really closing for a peaceful settlement," he said. "The Fallujah people, most of them, have left Fallujah, and the insurgents and the terrorists are still operating there. We hope they will come to their senses. Otherwise, we will have to bring them to face justice."
EU leaders assured Mr. Allawi that he has their support and promised to offer Iraq aid and a trade deal.