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Ambassador Khalilzad Outlines New Security Plan for Iraq

As sectarian clashes continue, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad discusses plans to heighten security and make other changes in hopes of reducing violence by late September.

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    Now, the efforts to stem a slide into civil war in Iraq.

    Four days ago, the top U.S. general in the Middle East said civil war could be the outcome if the rise in sectarian killings isn't halted soon. And as part of its plan to help the Iraqis do that, the U.S. has begun sending more American troops to Baghdad.

    For more on the security situation there, we're joined by the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad. I spoke with him earlier today from the Iraqi capital.

    Ambassador Khalilzad, thank you for joining us.

    ZALMAY KHALILZAD, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq: Margaret, it's good to be with you again.


    Last week, the CENTCOM commander, General Abizaid, said that Iraq could slide into civil war. How big a risk do you think there is of that at this point?


    Well, there is some risk of that. There are, in the circumstances that are present here, a way forward that could bring that about. But I think the prospects for avoiding a full civil war is stronger at the present time.

    There is the unity government. There is a program for securing Baghdad that the government has put forward that has two elements — to bring about an agreement among those who are deliberately involved in the civil war and are part of the political process, and also security and military measures to make it risky for those who are involved with sectarian violence.

    And this plan is in the process of being implemented; not all the elements required are yet in place. I am hopeful and cautiously optimistic that the plan will produce positive results.