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ARLINGTON, Va. — Iraq Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari’s prediction Monday that two years would be “more than enough” time to defeat Iraq’s insurgency was met with caution by top-level U.S. and British officials, although U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Iraq could deal with a “low level insurgency” and still make progress politically and economically.

Following June 27 talks with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, al-Jaafari said factors such as building up Iraq’s own security forces, controlling the country’s porous borders and pushing ahead with the political process would all play a part in ending the violence.

“I think two years will be enough, and more than enough, to establish security in our country,” the Associated Press quoted al-Jaafari as saying at a news conference.

But Rumsfeld’s assessment over the weekend was far less optimistic.

“Insurgencies tend to go on five, six, eight, 10, 12 years,” he said on Sunday.

Rumsfeld added that defeating the insurgency would be up to Iraq’s security forces, because American and foreign troops will have left the country by then.

On Monday, Rumsfeld added to his comments, saying believes Iraq’s new democracy can advance and even thrive despite the presence of disrupting forces.

“Insurgencies can last a period of years, as we know from history, and countries can do just fine,” he told Pentagon reporters.

“They can continue and have elections, and go about their business, and economies can grow, and there can be a low-level insurgency [at the same time],” Rumsfeld said. “Success for the coalition should not be defined as domestic tranquility in Iraq.”

Army Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq who joined Rumsfeld in Monday’s Pentagon press conference, agreed.

“We ought not all get focused on just the [number of] attacks as a measure of success in Iraq,” Casey said.

Instead, Casey said, “other measures” should be taken into consideration, such as economic and political developments.

Casey said that U.S. commanders have just finished a six-month assessment of progress in Iraq based on “such metrics,” and that “the conclusion of the staff was we remain broadly on track” in Iraq.

The Associated Press contributed to this story from London.


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