U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has warned against a quick U.S. pullout from Iraq, saying terrorists will take over the country.
In an opinion piece in The Washington Post newspaper Sunday, Rumsfeld insisted such a withdrawal would be the modern equivalent of handing Germany back to the Nazis. He says there is every reason to believe Saddam loyalists and terrorists will fill the vacuum if U.S. forces leave Iraq.
Rumsfeld's comments came as anti-war protesters in several countries held demonstrations to mark the third annivesary of the U.S-led invasion of Iraq.
Hundreds of anti-war protesters have rallied for a second day in several Asian cities to mark the third anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
Around 600 Malaysian activists took part in a peaceful rally Sunday outside the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. They chanted "Stop the War" and demanded U.S.-led forces immediately withdraw from Iraq.
Anti-war demonstrators also marched Sunday in Seoul and Tokyo to call for the pullout of South Korean and Japanese troops in Iraq.
On Saturday, British police said 15,000 people gathered in London, chanting anti-war slogans and carrying posters critical of President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
About one thousand people also demonstrated in New York where speakers denounced the Bush administration. Smaller protests were held in Washington and other U.S. cities.
Protests were also reported in Denmark, Greece, Spain, Turkey and Pakistan.
Anti-war campaigners are planning a third day of rallies Monday as part of what they call "global days of action" protesting the Iraq war, which began three years ago.
Separately, former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi told British television Iraq is in a state of civil war that threatens to spread throughout the Middle East. Sectarian violence sparked by the bombing of a Shi'ite shrine last month has killed hundreds of people.
Meanwhile, Iraqi police say U.S. forces killed at least seven people Sunday after coming under fire in the Sunni town of Duluiya, about 90 kilometers north of Baghdad.
In his national radio address Saturday, President Bush called on Iraqi leaders to form a government that can confront the terrorist threat and earn the confidence of all Iraqis.
Mr. Bush said recent violence has created a sense of urgency among Iraqi leaders to put aside their differences and reach across political, sectarian and religious lines.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.