A leaked draft report to be issued next week by the Government Accountability Office will say that the Iraqi government has failed to meet at least 13 of the 18 benchmarks set by U.S. lawmakers to judge its performance. VOA's Cindy Saine reports from Washington where crucial assessments of progress in the war in Iraq are coming out during the next two week.

The conclusions reached in the GAO report appear bleak. The Washington Post quotes the report as saying violence remains high and key legislation has not been enacted.

The report comes at a pivotal time in the Iraq debate. So far, most Republican lawmakers have stood by President Bush on the war, staving off demands by the Democratic majority to start bringing U.S. troops home. But many Republicans have said they want to see substantial progress in Iraq by September, or they may call for a new strategy.

Ahead of the GAO report's release next Tuesday, Defense Department officials are seeking to lower expectations. On Wednesday, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell, said the GAO standard was set too high. "The standard the GAO has set is far more stringent. Some might argue it's impossible to meet. And that is I think they have to sort of say definitely whether a benchmark has been met or not. Whereas, as you saw in July with our interim benchmarks report from the president, we are able to say whether there has been satisfactory progress towards meeting the goal," he said.

Congress has mandated that President Bush has to give a detailed accounting of the situation in Iraq by September 15.

The president is heading to the Defense Department on Friday, to hear the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the most senior officers in the four branches of U.S. military service, on whether to continue the U.S. troop increase.

The president will also be briefed by the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, and the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, ahead of his own September 15 deadline.