US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has acknowledged that Iraqi and US officials have been reaching out to some elements of Iraq's insurgency in a bid to reduce violence.
In US television interviews, Mr. Rumsfeld described such contacts as ongoing and routine. He said it should come as no surprise that Iraq's sovereign government wants to exert influence on members of the insurgency, but insisted no negotiations are not taking place with hardened terrorists.
He did not comment directly on a London newspaper report, quoting Iraqi sources, that said U.S. and Iraqi officials have been talking with insurgent groups, including one that has carried out suicide attacks, including one at an American base.
Mr. Rumsfeld also sought to defend Vice President Dick Cheney's widely criticized remarks that the insurgency in Iraq is in its "last throes." Mr. Rumsfeld said the number of attacks has remained about level, while conceding "They are killing a lot more Iraqis."