A top U.S. official says Iraqi leaders must take advantage of improved security to speed up political reconciliation or risk another eruption of sectarian violence.
Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte warned that without such action, Iraq risks falling back to what he called "the more violent patterns of the past."
Ending a six-day visit to Iraq, Negroponte said this year's "surge" of U.S. forces has delivered significant results that must be backed with passage of key national legislation, political reconciliation and economic advances.
Meanwhile, the number-two U.S. general in Iraq says there has been a 25 to 30 percent reduction in the number of foreign fighters entering Iraq, and he credits actions taken by Syria.
Lieutenant-General Raymond Odierno told CNN Sunday, he is pleased that Syria is doing more to limit the insurgent traffic but said he would like to see the flow stopped completely.
In another development, Iraq's largest Sunni Arab political bloc says it will return to parliament now that its leader has been allowed to leave his home for the first time in three days.
Police had kept Adnan al-Dulaimi at his Baghdad home after arresting his son and many of the politician's bodyguards on suspicion of links to a car bomb discovered near Dulaimi's office complex.
But on Sunday, Iraqi authorities escorted the politician from his home to a hotel near parliament in the heavily-guarded Green Zone of government and diplomatic buildings.
Dulaimi said his Accordance Front will return to parliament on Monday now that his house arrest has been lifted. Iraqi officials denied that Dulaimi had been under house arrest and said its actions were for his own safety.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.