U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says he has pressed Iraq's new leaders to avoid delays in building a democracy.
Mr. Rumsfeld held separate meetings with Iraq's interim President Jalal Talabani and recently named prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari during a surprise visit to Iraq today (Tuesday).
After the meetings, Mr. Talabani and Mr. al-Jaafari both said they have given assurances that they will fight corruption and work to ensure a smooth and timely transition to a constitutional government.
Some U.S. officials have expressed concern that political maneuvering by Iraqi factions could undermine counter-insurgency efforts.
The Defense Secretary also held a town-hall meeting with U.S. soldiers, after talks with their commanders in Baghdad.
Meanwhile, U.S. embassy officials confirmed late Monday that an American contractor was kidnapped by militants while working on a project site near Baghdad.