Iraq's deputy prime minister on Friday defended his government's progress in establishing security and ending political infighting, and warned that an early U.S. troop pullout would be disastrous for his country.
U.S. military commanders said Friday the troop buildup in Iraq must be maintained until at least next summer and they may need as long as two years to ensure parts of the country are stable.
The White House and senior military officers said they were not asking for more time before reporting to Congress on progress in Iraq.
While some Republicans have begun to break with the Bush administration over Iraq, those running for president show no signs of doing so.
Iraq is soccer crazy, and despite bombings and shootings that are sometimes aimed at amateur teams, it remains the national game.
President George W. Bush and his generals appealed on Friday for more time to allow his troop increase to work in Iraq, but a U.S. Senate ally said September was still pivotal for evaluating the strategy.
As of Friday, July 20, 2007, at least 3,630 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes seven military civilians. At least 2,977 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.
Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said Thursday the United States cannot use its military to solve humanitarian problems and that preventing a potential genocide in Iraq isn't a good enough reason to keep U.S. forces there.
September, November and next year have all been cited by various U.S. officials as critical times for the war in Iraq. Some of the dates and time frames now in play:
Under pressure to start withdrawing U.S. troops, the Bush administration wants the United Nations to play an expanded role in Iraq as a mediator both internally and with neighboring countries.