Violence in Iraq wont deter plans for withdrawal

Despite recent violence in Iraq, the White House has no second thoughts about pulling US troops out from urban areas.

"The president has heard...directly from General Odierno that we're going to keep our deadline of June 30th," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said.

General Raymond Odierno, who oversees the multi-national forces in Iraq, is in regular contact with President Obama. "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 US 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.

But the White House spokesman argued that even with the violence in recent days, the situation in Iraq has improved overall and consequently, the US 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."

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