Iraq remains "fragile," even after a boost in US troop strength slowed attacks and killings in 2007, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday.
Taking stock after a surprise trip to the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, Rice said the US surge to about 160,000 troops "has made an undeniable dent in the violence" and improved security in Iraq.
"All of this, of course, is still fragile. And in the year to come, we will need to continue to help Iraqis translate security gains into lasting political progress," she told reporters in Washington.
US President George W Bush said Thursday he was dissatisfied with progress by Iraq's rival factions toward national reconciliation and cautioned that they still have "a lot of work to do."
But he insisted that Iraq had a "functioning government" that had been bolstered by improved security in the country.
Rice said "serious challenges remain in Iraq, but they are increasingly the challenges of building on positive developments."
TAGS: Middle-East IraqRice