U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and the top American military commander in Iraq both say they expect violence in Iraq to increase as the country's January elections draw near.
Mr. Powell and U.S. Army Gen. John Abizaid said in separate U.S. television interviews Sunday it is clear that insurgents in Iraq are doing everything they can in an attempt to disrupt the restoration of democratic rule.
However, both men also said they are certain the insurgents will be defeated.
Secretary Powell and Gen. Abizaid said coalition forces in Iraq are preparing a major military offensive in advance of January's nationwide vote. The campaign aims to put parts of Iraq that are now largely held by insurgents, such as Fallujah, Samarra and Ramadi, under control of the Baghdad government.
Mr. Powell says the United States supports a proposal by Iraq's Prime Minister Ayad Allawi for an international conference on Iraq, as early as next month, to discuss how the country can be stabilized.
The American secretary says such a conference should be held in the Middle East, possibly in Amman or Cairo, and bring together all parties concerned with the situation Iraq, including Iran, Syria and members of the Group of Eight industrialized nations.
Information for this report is provided by AP and AFP.