WASHINGTON, May 30 (UPI) -- The U.S military expects to reach its goal of reducing troops in Iraq to 50,000 by the end of August, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen said.
"All indications are that we are on track and we will stay on track to be at 50,000 by the end of August," Mullen said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday.
About 94,000 U.S. troops are in the country now, and the last are to leave by the end of next year.
Mullen said he was hopeful despite a recent increase in violence. He pointed to the new government taking shape, noted the recount of election results went well and pointed to Iraqi security forces taking control of their own security last summer in a "significant step" forward.
"Obviously, the key issue for Iraq right now is to stand up this new government," Mullen said.
"While there has been an uptick in violence, as there has been since last summer, none of that violence has really resulted in sectarian response or sectarian violence."
In response, Mullen recalled his "very, very positive" recent Washington visit with Karzai and his ministers and said they had shown "a commitment to a strategic partnership and the evolution of this partnership."
Mullen said the Afghan government must establish rule of law and judicial proceedings, among other things.
"Clearly, a lot more needs to be done, but from my perspective, President Karzai knows what he needs to do, what he has to do, and we're moving in that direction," Mullen said.