US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says US forces are working hard to secure the release of an American contractor abducted in Iraq Monday.
Ms. Rice says US officials are engaged with Iraqis and others to gain the release of the contractor, who was shown in a video broadcast Wednesday urging US officials to open a dialogue with insurgents to save his life. Meanwhile, Ms. Rice's deputy, Robert Zoellick, visited Baghdad Wednesday for talks with Iraq's new interim president (Jalal Talabani) and prime minister (Ibrahim al-Jaafari). He also traveled to the former insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, where he met with civic leaders and discussed reconstruction efforts. In other developments, nine policemen were killed near Kirkuk while trying to defuse a bomb. And in Baghdad, several explosions killed five Iraqis and wounded eight others, including four US contractors.