'Troop withdrawal deadline could have `dangerous consequences' in Iraq'

The Pentagon's top military officer said Sunday a specific time frame for withdrawing US combat troops from Iraq could jeopardize political and economic progress, leading to "dangerous consequences." Adm. Mike Mullen said the agreement between President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to set a "general time horizon" for bringing more troops home from the war was a sign of "healthy negotiations for a burgeoning democracy." "I think the strategic goals of having time horizons are ones that we all seek because eventually we would like to see US forces draw down and eventually all come home," the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman said. "This right now doesn't speak to either time lines or timetables, based on my understanding of where we are." The best way to determine troops levels, he said, is to assess the conditions on the ground and to consult with American commanders - the mission Bush has given him.