Attacks on the US-led occupation and an accelerated timetable for Iraq's return to sovereignty have prompted the United States to scale down its ambitious agenda for remaking that country, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.

The daily said US officials have in the past few months dropped plans to privatise state-owned businesses and backed off efforts to disarm militias under the control of ethnic and political factions.

"The Americans are coming to understand that they cannot change everything they want to change in Iraq," Adel Abd el-Mehdi, a senior leader of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Shiite Muslim political party cooperating with the US-led occupation, told the daily.

"They need to let the Iraqi people decide the big issues."

Forging compromises

The US administrator for Iraq, Paul Bremer, and his deputies are now focused on forging compromises with Iraqi leaders and combating a persistent insurgency in order to meet a 01 July deadline to transfer sovereignty to a provisional government, the Post said.

Saddam's capture has failed to
staunch insurgency attacks

"There's no question that many of the big-picture items have been pushed down the list or erased completely," a senior US official involved in Iraq's reconstruction told the paper.

"Right now, everyone's attention is focused [on] doing what we need to do to hand over sovereignty by next summer."

The anti-US insurgency has killed 209 American soldiers since 1 May, when US President George Bush declared major combat ended in Iraq, according to an AFP count.

Four Bulgarian soldiers, two Thais and seven Iraqis were killed on Saturday in fighting in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, capping a particularly bloody week in the war-torn country.