U.S. President Barack Obama has told military leaders to draw up any additional plans necessary for a responsible U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq.
Mr. Obama called for the measure during a meeting with his national security team on Wednesday.
The new president has vowed to withdraw troops from Iraq within 16 months. He also supports a plan to nearly double the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan, where violence has increased in recent months.
In a statement, Mr. Obama called Wednesday's meeting productive. He said he planned to consult military leaders in the coming days to review the situation in Afghanistan, in order to develop a comprehensive strategy for the entire region.
Separately on Wednesday in Iraq, a Sunni politician escaped unharmed after an attack on his convoy just north of Baghdad. The bombing killed four students.
Ziyad al-Ani heads Baghdad's Islamic University and belongs to the Iraqi Islamic Party, a large Sunni Arab faction in parliament.
The attack came ahead of Iraq's provincial elections on January 31. Two politicians have already been murdered, and Iraqi security officials fear more violence in the days leading up to the vote.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.