U.S. calls for political progress to back up “surge”

A029483310.jpgBAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraq must take advantage of improved security to enact laws aimed at reconciliation or risk a resumption of sectarian violence, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte said on Sunday.

“The security surge has delivered significant results. Now progress on political reconciliation, including key national legislation as well as economic advances, is needed to consolidate the gains,” Negroponte told a news conference in Baghdad at the end of a six-day tour of Iraq.

“If progress is not made on these fronts we risk falling back toward the more violent habits of the past,” he said.

Violence in Iraq has fallen dramatically over the past few months since Washington launched a “surge” of 30,000 additional troops. But U.S. officials say Iraqi leaders have so far made limited progress on passing laws aimed at reconciling warring communities.

Negroponte called on the Democrat-led U.S. Congress to vote for additional funding for the war effort, including for State Department-led provincial reconstruction teams, which he said were not covered by previous appropriations.

“Without this supplemental funding it will be necessary to curtail this critical activity,” he said.

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