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US Defense Secretary Calls for Faster Progress by Iraqi Leaders


U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he would like to see faster progress by Iraqi leaders in addressing challenges in their country.

Gates says the Iraqis need to push through legislation on sharing oil revenues.

The defense secretary spoke in Iraq, where he made a surprise visit Thursday, one day after bombs killed nearly 200 people in Baghdad's worst violence in months.

Gates has been on a Middle East tour calling on states in the area to help stabilize Iraq. He says chaos would hurt the entire region.

In violence Thursday, a suicide car bomber struck a Shi'ite district in Baghdad, killing 12 people.

British officials say two British soldiers were killed Thursday in Iraq. The U.S. military says three U.S. soldiers were killed Wednesday in separate attacks near Baghdad.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki condemned Wednesday's attacks on mostly Shi'ite areas of Baghdad, calling those responsible "soldiers of Satan." U.S. military officials say they suspect the bombings were the work of al-Qaida in Iraq terrorists and their Sunni insurgent allies trying to inflame sectarian passion.

Meanwhile, an Iraqi insurgent group linked to al-Qaida says it has killed 20 Iraqi police and soldiers abducted last week.

An Internet video posted by the Islamic State of Iraq group showed a masked militant shooting blindfolded men in the back of the head. The authenticity of the video could not be confirmed.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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