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Iraq President Expected to Approve New Cabinet Choices

Iraq's prime minister-designate Ibrahim al-Jaafari has presented his proposal for a new cabinet to the presidential council. Meanwhile, Pentagon officials say U.S. troops are making progress combating the insurgency in Iraq, despite an increasing pace of attacks. In the latest attack, gunmen Wednesday killed a member of Iraq's parliament, Lamia Abed Khadduri.

President Jalal Talabani is expected to approve the proposal before Iraq's 275-seat National Assembly votes on the new government.

Mr. al-Jaafari did not identify any of the officials on his list, but the cabinet is expected to include representatives from Iraq's Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish ethnic groups, and one Christian.

Iraqis have been disappointed by three months of bickering over ministerial candidates following January's landmark elections. U.S. officials have blamed the political stalemate for contributing to renewed violence in Iraq.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told a Senate hearing Wednesday that despite continuing insurgent attacks, U.S. forces are making progress in Iraq. Mr. Rumsfeld disputed charges that the United States has not committed enough troops to maintain security.

"The more troops you have, the more of an occupying power you are, the heavier footprint, the more force protection you need, the more logistics you need, and the more intrusive you are on the people of that country," says Mr. Rumsfeld.

Air Force General Richard Myers, the chairman of the U-S Joint Chiefs of Staff, also said that Iraqis have become more and more self-reliant.

"The Iraqis have shown a strong pride of ownership in their new government and in their future. Forming a new government is not easy, but continued progress is essential to sustaining the positive momentum seen since the January elections," explains Richard Myers.

General Myers says that speeding up the political process in Iraq would be the best way to combat insurgents.