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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 October 2006, 04:38 GMT 05:38 UK
US 'arrogant and stupid' in Iraq
A senior US state department official has said that the US has shown "arrogance and stupidity" in Iraq.
Alberto Fernandez told al-Jazeera TV the US was now willing to talk to any insurgent group apart from al-Qaeda in Iraq, to reduce sectarian bloodshed.
His remarks came after President George W Bush discussed changing tactics with top military commanders.
A report that officials are drawing up a timetable for Iraq's government to improve security has been denied.
The New York Times reported that the Bush administration was preparing a timetable for the government to meet objectives - including disarming sectarian militias - that would stabilise the country and allow US troops to take a reduced role.
The plan is "to get the Iraqis to step up to the plate", the newspaper cited a senior administration official as saying. "We can't be there for ever," the official added.
But White House spokeswoman Nicole Guillemard denied the report. "The story is not accurate, but we are constantly developing new tactics to achieve our goal," she said.
Meanwhile, British Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells, in an interview with the BBC, has suggested that the Iraqi security forces could take over much of the work of US-led forces within a year.
Mr Fernandez, an Arabic speaker who is director of public diplomacy in the state department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, told Qatar-based al-Jazeera that the world was "witnessing failure in Iraq".
"That's not the failure of the United States alone, but it is a disaster for the region," he said.
"I think there is great room for strong criticism, because without doubt, there was arrogance and stupidity by the United States in Iraq."
On talks with insurgent groups, he said: "We are open to dialogue because we all know that, at the end of the day, the solution to the hell and the killings in Iraq is linked to an effective Iraqi national reconciliation."
'Goal is victory'
Mr Fernandez's comments came after Mr Bush said in his weekly radio address that US troops were changing tactics to deal with the insurgency.
"Our goal in Iraq is clear and unchanging," he said. "Our goal is victory. What is changing are the tactics we use to achieve that goal."
He later held a teleconference call with senior military commanders, as violence continued in Iraq.
Saturday saw 17 people killed in a mortar attack on a market near the capital, Baghdad, while three US marines were killed in Anbar province, bringing the total number of US troops killed in Iraq in October to 78.
The BBC's James Westhead in Washington says that while there is no official change in US strategy, change is on everyone's lips.
A new poll weeks before key Congressional elections shows two-thirds of Americans believe the US is losing the war in Iraq.