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Iraqi Premier To Meet With Bush

Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Ja'fari (file photo) 24 June 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Ja'fari holds talks with U.S. President George W. Bush in Washington today.

Al-Ja'fari said he will thank the American leader for his support in helping to shape a new Iraq.

Speaking to reporters yesterday in Washington, al-Ja'fari also predicted Iraq will meet an August deadline to write a new constitution and that the Iraqi people will approve it in a referendum in the fall.

In the Iraqi capital Baghdad, a series of bomb attacks on 23 June killed at least 17 people and wounded more than 60.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, meanwhile, refused to set a date for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

Speaking to a U.S. Senate committee, Rumsfeld said setting a deadline would "send a lifeline to terrorists."

"Let there be no doubt," Rumsfeld said. "If the coalition were to leave before the Iraqi security forces are able to assume responsibility, we would one day have to confront another Iraqi regime perhaps even more dangerous than the last in a region plunged into darkness rather than liberated and free."

The U.S. top Persian Gulf commander General John Abizaid told the same Senate committee that more foreign fighters were coming into Iraq than six months ago.

(compiled from agency reports)