Rumsfeld: Troop withdrawal unlikely soon

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Wednesday he does not expect US commanders to make a recommendation for withdrawing forces from Iraq until after the country appoints ministers of its fledgling government, perhaps by the end of May. Rumsfeld said Gen. George Casey, the top US commander in Iraq, and US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad have not yet been able to begin discussions with Iraqi defense and interior ministers "about the conditions on the ground and the responsibility being passed over to the Iraqis." Once the Iraqi ministers are installed, Rumsfeld said, "I do expect that, after that happens, they will be having those discussions and that, as we pass over more responsibility, we ought to be able to reduce our forces."