The United States ambassador in Baghdad said he and his Iranian counterpart agreed broadly on policy toward Iraq during four-hour groundbreaking talks on Monday, but insisted that Iran end its support for militants.
The Iranian ambassador later said the two sides would meet again in less than a month.
Hassan Kazemi Qomi, the Iranian envoy, also said that he told the Americans that his government was ready to train and equip the Iraqi army and police to create "a new military and security structure."
Intelligence analysts predicted, in secret papers circulated within the government before the Iraq invasion, that al-Qaida would see U.S. military action as an opportunity to increase its operations and that Iran would try to shape a post-Saddam Iraq.
The top analysts in government also said that establishing a stable democracy in Iraq would be a "long, difficult and probably turbulent process."
Democrats said the newly declassified documents, part of a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation released Friday, make clear that the Bush administration was warned about the very challenges it now faces as it tries to stabilize Iraq.
A record number of Americans are pessimistic about the outcome in Iraq and now believe the war was a mistake, according to a CBS News/New York Times opinion poll out late Thursday.
Seventy-six percent of Americans think the war is going badly, up ten percentage points in one month, according to the poll.
Sixty-one percent of those polled said the United States should have stayed out of Iraq, with only 35 percent saying the invasion was the right thing to do.
| Aftermath of Iraq bombing (AP)|
U.S. and Iraqi forces exchanged fire with suspected Sunni insurgents on Monday, killing two and wounding four of them during a massive search for three missing American soldiers in a volatile area south of Baghdad, the Iraqi army said.
An al-Qaida front group, the Islamic State in Iraq, claimed Sunday that it had captured U.S soldiers in a deadly attack on a U.S. convoy the day before in Sunni area south of Baghdad that is known as the "triangle of death" â€” a longtime al-Qaida stronghold.
Meanwhile, 4,000 U.S. troops backed by aircraft, intelligence units and Iraqi forces were scouring the farming area around Mahmoudiya and the nearby town of Youssifiyah for the third day, as the military promised to make every effort available to find the missing soldiers.
Two retired Army major generals with experience in Iraq will appear in television commercials critical of President Bush's handling of the war, with the spots targeted at key Republicans in the House and Senate.
| Defense Secretary Robert Gates (AP)|
The Pentagon has notified more than 35,000 Army soldiers to be prepared to deploy to Iraq beginning this fall, a move that would allow commanders to maintain the ongoing buildup of troops through the end of the year if needed.
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said Tuesday the deployment orders, which have been signed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, do not mean that the military has made a decision to keep the increased level of 20 brigades in Iraq through December. A brigade is roughly 3,500 soldiers.
Instead, he said the decision gives the Pentagon the "capability" to carry the buildup to the end of the year. The replacement forces, Whitman said, would give commanders in Iraq the flexibility they need to complete the mission there.
The US military is now posting video clips on YouTube showing US troops in combat and insurgents being bombed in a "boots on the ground" perspective of the Iraq war, officials said Monday.
Multi-National Forces Iraq created a "channel" on the popular video sharing website in March to show the clips, which often capture the intensity of combat while generally showing US troops in a positive light.
| Aftermath of car bomb (AP Photo)|
A car bomb ripped through a wholesale food market in western Baghdad on Sunday, flattening cars and shops and killing at least 30 people in the deadliest of a wave of attacks across Iraq that killed at least 50 people.
The attack came amid an 11-week-old crackdown by U.S.-led forces intended to bring stability to Baghdad.
As part of that crackdown, U.S. and Iraqi forces raided the Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City early Sunday, uncovering a weapons cache, a torture room and killing at least eight insurgents in a gunbattle, the military said.
In other violence, three U.S. troops were killed in separate attacks, the military said Sunday.
Nearly 4,000 U.S. soldiers have arrived in Baghdad as a crackdown aimed at quelling the sectarian violence enters its 12th week. Meanwhile, bombings and shootings killed 10 people Wednesday, including three Sunni brothers who were shot to death in Baghdad.
Iraqi authorities are investigating reports that the alleged leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, has been killed in a struggle within his own group, the interior ministry said Tuesday.
“There is intelligence information. Some information, you know, needs confirmation, but this information is very strong,” interior ministry operations director Brigadier General Abdel Karim Khalaf said.
“The clashes took place among themselves. There were clashes within the groups of Al-Qaeda. He was liquidated by them. Our forces had nothing to do with it,” he added, in an interview on state television.