(AP) - Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Wednesday on an unannounced visit to an air base north of Baghdad that the new Iraqi government is not yet ready to decide on security issues that will determine the pace of U.S. troop reductions this year.
Speaking to reporters on a flight from Afghanistan, Rumsfeld said the Iraqis are embarked "on a comprehensive review" of their security requirements, as well an effort to reconcile Sunni and Shiite groups to broaden political support for the government, reports Trend.
Asked how long that might take, he said, "I don't talk deadlines."
There now are about 129,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and U.S. officials have expressed hope that the total could be reduced to 100,000 by the end of the year, with further cuts in 2007. Rumsfeld's remarks suggested that the timing and scope of troops cuts is still in doubt.
Rumsfeld was met at his airplane by Gen. George Casey, the top American commander in Iraq.
The secretary was holding a town hall style meeting with troops at the air base and later meeting with Iraqi and U.S. military and civilian officials.