Iraqi Governing Council May Ditch U.S. Plan

Iraq's Governing Council (searchwill study Washington's proposals for a speedier transfer of power but won't necessarily agree with the details, a member said Friday, while U.S. forces were hit by another attack in Baghdad.

"On our part, we have our own ideas," said Mahmoud Othman (search), an independent Kurdish member of the 24-seat body appointed by U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer (searchfour months ago.

Bremer was returning to Baghdad Friday after meeting with President Bush to discuss ways of speeding up the transfer of power to an Iraqi-led government amid deteriorating security in the country.

The attacks continued Friday. A roadside bomb blew up as U.S. soldiers tried to defuse it in Baghdad's northwestern neighborhood of Khadra, causing three casualties among the soldiers, a witness said. The witness, Ahmed Mohammed, did not know if the three soldiers were killed or wounded, and the U.S. military had no immediate comment.

U.S. troops blocked the road for about an hour and called through loudspeakers for Iraqis to help them capture those who planted the bomb. They also handed out leaflets offering a $10,000 reward to anybody with information about pro-Saddam loyalists.

Othman said Bremer would likely meet with members of the governing body on Saturday to present details of the policy shift regarding the transfer of power to a transitional government.

"We will listen to Bremer and he will listen to us," he said.

The Bush administration is proposing elections in the first half of next year and formation of a government before a constitution is written, a senior U.S. official said in Washington. In the past, the administration insisted that Iraqi leaders write a constitution and hold elections before the occupying power begins shifting power to Iraqis.

"The constitutional process will take some time, and we think that during this period the Iraqi people need a basic law, a provisional government and a broader representation in the governing council," Othman said.

Washington's policy shift is widely seen as part of a response to the worsening security situation and the uprising that already has claimed the lives of more than 50 coalition soldiers this month.

Japan said Thursday it was delaying a decision on sending troops to Iraq, delivering a new setback to U.S. hopes for easing the pressure on its forces.

South Korea also said it would limit its contribution to 3,000 troops and officials said Friday that Seoul has ordered its 464 soldiers in southern Iraq to suspend their operations outside coalition bases.

Denmark rejected a push to bolster its 410-member force in the wake of Wednesday's homicide truck bombing at an Italian base in the southern city of Nasiriyah.

The attack killed at least 32 people, 18 of them Italians, and wounded more than 80. It was the deadliest against coalition forces since the war started on March 20, and officials said several of the wounded are not expected to survive.

The Nasiriyah attack has raised fears that Iraqi resistance groups were gradually extending their area of operations to include the country's mainly Shiite Muslim southern regions, which have generally been well-disposed toward the U.S.-led coalition. The insurgency, which originated in the "Sunni Triangle" north and west of the capital, has spread in recent weeks to the northern city of Mosul, Iraq's third-largest.

In Washington, Bush expressed resolve to curb the violence against coalition forces.

"We're going to prevail," he said. "We've got a good strategy to deal with these killers."

Meanwhile, U.S. troops pounded suspected guerrilla targets in the capital for a second straight night under a new "get-tough" campaign against the insurgency.

Steady explosions shook the capital, which has a population of 5 million, after sundown Thursday, part of a "Operation Iron Hammer."

American troops also shelled a dye factory that they said had been used by pro-Saddam loyalists to store ammunition on the southern outskirts of Baghdad and launched air and ground operations against a Republican Guard facility used to fire on the coalition.

Army spokesman Lt. Col. George Krivo said that operations against the insurgents would intensify, despite concerns that the retaliatory tactics would increase resentment among Iraqis already upset by the heavy-handed military tactics.

"What you are seeing ... are stepped-up offensive operations to push terrorists out of their lairs," he said.

Faced with a worsening security problem, coalition authorities said Thursday they would close a major bridge over the Tigris River which reopened about two weeks ago for the first time since the city fell in April. But on Friday, the bridge remained opened for traffic.