"I would not presume to speak for him," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said on Thursday in response to a query. "I would let him speak for himself," he said.

"I would point out that the search is an important priority and the work of the Iraq Survey Group continues."

The Washington Post had reported in its Thursday editions that Kay, in his job since May, might soon leave for "personal and family reasons."

McClellan noted the group's interim report "already pointed out that Saddam Hussein's regime was in serious violation of (UN) Security Council Resolution 1441.  "And the Iraq Survey Group will continue and complete its work," he said. "Again, I would not speak for Mr Kay. I will let him speak for himself."

US contentions that Saddam's regime was manufacturing and
stockpiling banned weapons was a critical argument in President George Bush's controversial decision to go to war in Iraq.  But thus far no such weapons have been uncovered in war-torn Iraq.

Arab delegation

Meanwhile, Arab League diplomats are leaving to Iraq via Syria on Friday on their first visit to Iraq since Saddam Hussein fell from power in April, Aljazeera correspondent reported.

The delegation, headed by the league's assistant secretary general Ahmad bin Hili are expected to hold talks with Iraqi politicians across the board.

The team will meet members of the US-backed interim Iraqi
Governing Council, religious and tribal leaders as well as members of various political groups, the sources added. 

The delegation will also visit different areas of the country,
stopping at mass graves where Saddam's political opponents were buried and found after the regime fell.

Aljazeera correspondent added that Iraqi tribes are expected to offer security for the delegation in the cities they are planning to visit.