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Pentagon chief visits Iraq, says some US troops could leave sooner

UNDATED (AP) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been getting a firsthand look at U.S.-Iraqi cooperation. He's also visiting areas where there's a lack of cooperation between Iraqi Arabs and Kurds. He's been warning them to settle their differences, and offering to help mediate their squabbles before U.S. forces pull out.

Gates has also said there's "some chance of a modest acceleration" in the pace of U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq. He tells reporters that perhaps one combat brigade would leave ahead of schedule.

The overall timetable for withdrawal of approximately 130,000 U.S. forces is keyed to Iraq's national election calendar, with most combat forces remaining through August 2010.


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