The United States plans to better arm Iraqi forces to allow a speedier withdrawal of US troops and appears to be tilting toward greater support of the Shia majority, after failing to convince Sunnis to abandon violence.
Talks between President George W Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Amman on Thursday were dominated by the question of the Iraqi army's ability to assure security in the country, according to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.
"We're looking at how to better equip those forces," Rice said in a US Fox television interview, one of several she made after the leaders' talks.
"I think you'll see an acceleration not just of the transfer of authority to the Iraqis over certain areas of the country ...
But really in looking at the capabilities themselves and reacting to Iraqi suggestions and concerns about what may be needed," she said.
Before leaving Jordan, Bush himself revealed that Maliki had complained the US had not given him adequate means to conduct the kind of policy the US expected of him in his war-torn country, wracked by insurgency and sectarian violence.
The US president said his administration's aim was to assure the Iraqi premier has more capable forces under his command.