White House Says Iraq in 'New Phase'

WASHINGTON, Nov. 27, 2006 — -- The White House acknowledged today that Iraq is clearly in a "new phase" and new solutions are urgently needed to stem the violence.

As Iraq continues its descent into civil war after a wave of deadly sectarian violence, White House officials said things are not "proceeding well or going fast enough" in Iraq and that the United States must find ways to "adapt."

The White House also announced that when President Bush meets with Iraq's prime minister in Jordan later this week, he will discuss possible talks directly between Iran and Iraq -- without U.S. involvement.

A different set of talks is being considered by the 10-member Iraq Study Group, led by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton of Indiana.

Officials tell ABC News that one of the central recommendations from the commission will be that the U.S. engage in talks with both Iran and Syria to help stem the flow of foreign fighters and lethal bombs from entering Iraq.

"The reason why Syria or Iran might want to cooperate with us is because this gives them stature, it gives them power in the region, in effect they would be operating with America as equals," said Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute policy group.

An adminstration official said it is unlikely Bush would accept that recommendation, but would look favorably at two other advisements:

Double or triple the number of U.S. soldiers embedded with Iraqi security forces.

Give the Iraqi government a strong message that the U.S. military support will not go on indefinitely.

As for timetables for withdrawal, the president has been adamant that none be set. An official tells ABC News that the Iraq Study Group is "massively divided" on the question of timetables, or whether to suggest additional troops for a short period of time.

"It's unlikely the group will come up with a radically new strategy that no one has seen before," according to Ken Pollack of the Brookings Institute. "It's unlikely they will come up with … a totally different course of action."

Meanwhile, the adminstration is making its own parallel efforts at finding new ideas for Iraq. The chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the National Security Council are both undertaking separate strategy studies.

An administration official told ABC News today, "These are meant to complement the Iraq Study Group."

In other words, the administration would be able to say it agrees with the Iraq Study Group on some points, but could say it came to separate conclusions if administration officials do not agree on some of the group's other recommendations.