White House: Violence in Iraq Won't Deter Withdrawal Plans

Despite recent violence in Iraq, the White House said Wednesday it has no second thoughts about pulling U.S. troops out from urban areas.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said General Ray Odierno, who oversees the multi-national forces in Iraq and is in regular contact with President Obama, told the president "that we're going to keep our deadline of June 30th."

"I know the president has had meetings and continues to have meetings about ensuring that we're making sufficient political progress on the ground," Gibbs added.

 With less than a week before the deadline for U.S. troops to start pulling back from some Iraqi cities - the first step towards full withdrawal by the end of 2011 - there has been in increase in bombings and shootings in Baghdad, particularly in the predominantly Shiite neighborhoods like Sadr City. Both U.S. and local officials have warned of such an increase.

A bomb hidden in a Sadr City market exploded Wednesday killing dozens, only days after the U.S. military closed its main base in that section of Baghdad.

But Gibbs argued that even with the violence in recent days, the situation in Iraq has improved overall and consequently, the U.S. plans are unchanged. 

"General Odierno has mentioned that we have seen violence greatly decrease even in the past many months from what it was, and he feels confident in moving forward," he said.