U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says there is growing pressure from local leaders in Iraq for the top levels of government to replicate the political reconciliation occurring in parts of the country.
Gates spoke Thursday in Bahrain after visiting Iraq, where he met with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and top Iraqi officials. He said Mr. Maliki and Iraq's Presidential Council know they need to make progress on key legislative issues.
Gates also met with the head of U.S. forces in Iraq, General David Petraeus.
General Petraeus said the U.S. military still faces a dangerous enemy in Iraq, despite a recent decline in violence across the country.
Separately, a spokesman for Iraq's Kurdish Peshmerga militia says eight troops have been killed and five others wounded in an attack carried out by militants Thursday north of Baghdad, in volatile Diyala province.
The spokesman says three gunmen also were killed in the fighting.
The U.S. military says coalition forces killed three insurgents and detained 19 suspects during a series of raids Thursday to disrupt al-Qaida in Iraq operations along the Tigris River Valley.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.