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Iraq Increases Pressure on US to Accept Troop Pullout Timetable


Iraqi officials are increasing pressure on the United States to agree to a specific timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces from Iraq.

Iraqi national security adviser Mouwaffak al-Rubaie said Tuesday that Baghdad will reject any security deal with Washington that does not include such a timeline. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki publicly proposed a troop pullout timetable for the first time on Monday.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday that Washington will continue reducing its troop presence in Iraq as Iraqi security forces get stronger. But, he says the pace of U.S. withdrawals will depend on Iraq's security situation.

U.S. military chief Admiral Mike Mullen visited Iraq's northern city of Mosul Tuesday and told the Associated Press that security is "much better" in the former al-Qaida stronghold.

But, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff warned that if Iraqi authorities fail to implement political reforms and deliver services, he doubts that recent security gains in Mosul will make much difference.

Iraqi and U.S. forces conducted a security crackdown in Mosul recently that cleared insurgents from most of the city.

In violence Tuesday, the U.S. military says a bomb went off during a funeral procession in the eastern province of Diyala, killing four civilians and wounding 13 other people.

Elsewhere, a roadside bomb killed an American soldier west of Baghdad. In another attack, a mortar struck a joint Iraqi-U.S. security post in northeastern Baghdad, slightly wounding an American soldier and an interpreter.

In another development, Iraqi officials say Jordan's King Abdullah has postponed a visit to Iraq that was expected to begin Wednesday. The Jordanian king would have been the first Arab head of state to visit Iraq since the 2003 invasion.


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