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White House Confirms Iraq Troop Reduction Plan


The White House has confirmed a plan to reduce troop numbers in Iraq, but said it is one of several options being considered by military officials.

The New York Times reported Sunday that the Pentagon had drafted a plan to bring home two brigades of a few thousand soldiers from Iraq in coming months. It also said officials would cut the number of combat brigades from 14 to five or six by next year.

A White House spokesman, Tony Snow, said any troop reduction is based on conditions in Iraq. He added that President Bush met the top U.S. commander in Iraq, General George Casey, on Friday.

Meanwhile, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says it is not 100 percent clear that Russian embassy workers taken hostage in Iraq have been killed.

He told Russian television Monday that experts are studying an Internet video that purportedly shows the killing of three of the four hostages.

An al-Qaida-linked insurgent group, the Mujahedeen Shura Council, said Sunday that it killed the four Russians to avenge alleged abuses by Russia's government.

On Sunday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki unveiled a reconciliation plan intended to reduce violence by insurgents and sectarian groups.

Mr. Maliki told parliament the plan includes an offer of amnesty to those who have not taken part in criminal and terrorist activities.

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