The top U.S. administrator for Iraq, Paul Bremer, was in Washington for urgent consultations on Iraq's security situation and efforts to speed up a return to self-rule. With a December 15 U.N. deadline looming, even members of the Iraqi Governing Council agree it needs reorganizing.
The urgent consultations come after a steadily increasing number of attacks on U.S. occupation forces and as a U.N. deadline approaches for establishing Iraq's timetable for a new constitution and elections.
Amid criticism of the role of the occupation force in Iraq, some U.S. officials are suggesting an interim Iraqi government be formed along the lines of the Afghan model to speed up the transfer of sovereignty.
After his meetings Wednesday with President Bush and other administration officials, Mr. Bremer dismissed suggestions the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council is failing to meet its responsibilities.
"No, I don't think it's fair to say the IGC is failing," he said. "They face a very difficult situation at this time but the Iraqis are, I think, more and more effective in their assumption of authority."
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says different options are under consideration to speed up the process but, he adds, patience is needed.
"This is a difficult work that we are at to take 24 individuals, put them together and give them this kind of responsibility requires patience, as they develop patterns of work and patterns of operations as they staff themselves for these responsibilities," said Colin Powell.
During the past four months, tensions have increased between Mr. Bremer's office and council members. U.S. officials say they are concerned about the slow pace of work on a constitution and election timetable. IGC members blame the slow pace in part on having to pass all their decisions through Mr. Bremer's office before implementing them.
In Baghdad, IGC spokesman Qubad Talabani says the council is trying to tackle the problem.
"The Governing Council understands that it needs to reorganize itself into a more effective decision-making body," he said. "It realizes that there is a lack of executive authority within the Governing Council and members are seriously deliberating amongst themselves to find a mechanism that would give them more executive authority."
Ambassador Bremer says he will bring some ideas back to Baghdad to discuss with the Governing Council but it will be up to the council to decide how to proceed.