U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has urged Iraqi political leaders to resolve their differences and to stem the escalating sectarian bloodshed.
After talks with Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad Thursday, Rice said the United States "will be a committed friend" of Iraq.
But on the plane to Baghdad she told told reporters that Iraqi leaders do not have time for "endless debate" on the issues dividing them. She said the current security situation cannot be tolerated.
As her plane approached the Iraqi capital, it had to circle for about a half an hour because of apparent rocket fire.
Rice's surprise visit came at the end of a Middle East tour and at a time of growing attacks on U.S. soldiers in Iraq.
The U.S. military announced today that two American Marines were killed in combat west of the capital.
About 25 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq since Saturday and more than 2700 since the U.S.-led invasion three years ago.
Earlier Thursday, the U.S. military said it is "highly unlikely" that the leader of Al-Qaida in Iraq was among several militants killed in a recent raid.
A U.S. military spokesman said he believes Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, also known as Abu Ayyub al-Masri is alive. However, U.S. and Iraqi officials say they are conducting DNA tests on one of the militants killed to be sure.
Wednesday, Iraqi authorities suspended one of Baghdad's police units on suspicion of complicity with sectarian death squads.
A U.S. military spokesman, Major General William Caldwell says there is clear evidence that the unit allowed death squad elements to move freely, when it should have been impeding their movements.