A leading Democratic US Senator said the situation is getting worse in Iraq -- where militants have continued to carry out deadly attacks despite Iraqi and US military campaigns against them.
Senator Joe Biden told CBS Television on Sunday that Iraq is becoming a training ground for terrorists. His opinion was echoed by Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, who told U.S. News and World Report magazine the White House is - in his words - "completely disconnected from reality" about the situation in Iraq.
But Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Fox News Channel there has been "a lot of progress" in Iraq. She pointed to the recent arrest of a suspected lieutenant of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who U.S. officials believe is leading al-Qaida in Iraq. Ms. Rice also said the growing strength and sophistication of Iraqi security forces will gradually lessen the burden of the US-led coalition.