The United States says it plans to admit about 7,000 Iraqi refugees during the next eight months.

This represents a big increase in the number of Iraqi refugees allowed into the U.S.  Fewer than 500 have been admitted since the U.S. invasion in 2003.

A State Department spokesman confirmed the plan as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The spokesman also said the U.S. will take care of Iraqis who have worked for the U.S. in their country and thus could be vulnerable to reprisal.

He said the U.S. will increase funding for Iraqi refugees in other countries.

Syria and Jordan have received the largest numbers of Iraqi refugees but they have been trying to limit the influx.

The U.N. refugee agency estimates that nearly 2 million Iraqis have fled to other countries, while 2 million are displaced within the country.

The agency says about 2,000 Iraqi refugees are arriving in Syria every day, and an estimated 1,000 a day are going to Jordan.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.