Senator Levin declares United States military backing for Iraq tied to formation of government

A powerful group of U.S. senators met on Tuesday with Iraq 's interim prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, to discuss prospects for formation of a national unity government, a step viewed as all-important in working toward peace and a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq .

Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said al-Jaafari told the delegation he expected a new government to be formed by April.

"April is fine," Levin told reporters. "But it is necessary that this commitment be kept in order for there to be continued support for the presence of American troops in Iraq."

The committee chairman, Sen. John Warner, R-Va., said decisions on the U.S. troop presence would be made not only by U.S. President George W. Bush, Congress and other leaders, but by "the American people" an apparent allusion to declining U.S. popular support for the Iraq war, reports the AP.

D.M.