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US Iraq Study Group Reaches Consensus

A co-chairman of the US bipartisan group studying the Bush administration's policy in Iraq says the panel has reached a consensus on recommendations for Iraq.

Former Democratic Congressman Lee Hamilton Wednesday refused to provide specifics of the Iraq Study Group's decisions, but said results will be revealed at a news conference on December 6.

Congress created the study group in March to assess the situation in Iraq and make recommendations to lawmakers and the Bush administration. Former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker is the other co-chair of the panel, which comprises five Democrats and five Republicans.

In recent months, the group has met with more than 100 U.S. and Iraqi military and civilian officials to come up with an independent assessment of progress in the war.

Earlier, a Washington-based research group says there is no doubt the conflict in Iraq has become a civil war and warns that the violence could become much worse in the coming months.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies issued its assessment this week in a new report authored by analyst Anthony Cordesman.

The author says that while some progress has been made in training Iraqi forces, they, and the central government in Baghdad, are still too weak to maintain control. He says it will take three to five years to fully develop Iraq's security forces.

Earlier Wednesday, former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said during a business forum in the United Arab Emirates that the conflict in Iraq meets the definition of a civil war. Powell was President Bush's Secretary of State when the war in Iraq began.

The Bush administration rejects labeling the conflict as a civil war. President Bush has said U.S. troops will not leave the battlefield until the mission is complete.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AP.