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US Commander in Iraq Considering Small Troop Reduction


The top U.S. commander in Iraq is indicating a willingness to withdraw some U.S. forces from Iraq early next year.

Senior officials in the Bush administration are telling U.S. media that Army General David Petraeus would consider removing up to 4,000 troops from Iraq as early as January - a fraction of the more than 160,000 U.S. troops now in Iraq. The United States added 30,000 troops earlier this year to help quell the sectarian violence that has plagued Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Some senior military leaders are advocating a quicker withdrawal of the additional troops, concerned about the strain the Iraq war has placed on the armed forces.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said Friday, that various political factions are beginning to work together toward national reconciliation. He called recent walkouts by members of his Cabinet just a normal part of politics in a democracy.

An independent panel of experts also says a significant reduction of U.S. forces by early 2008 would be possible and prudent. The panel, led by retired Marine General James Jones, says reducing the U.S. presence would give the Iraqis an incentive to reach a political reconciliation.

Democratic Party congressional leaders have been pushing for a timetable to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq, but have been unsuccessful due to strong Republican opposition. But the Democrats have signaled they are open to a bipartisan compromise for withdrawal that does not include a set deadline.

General Petraeus and the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, will give their long-awaited assessments on the war to Congress next.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.