Bremer ruled out on Monday any compromise on a 15 November deal between Washington and the US-appointed interim Governing Council, setting up an Iraqi provisional government without holding elections. 

His comments were in answer to the latest rejection of the plan by senior Shia cleric Grand Ayat Allah Ali al-Sistani, a figure revered by most of Iraq's 15-million strong Shia Muslims. 

"We have said it is important to implement the 15 November
agreement which was agreed by the Governing Council and has been submitted to the United Nations as the best way forward for the return of sovereignty to the Iraqi people," Bremer told reporters. 

Meanwhile, the Pentagon on Monday  has said it is extending tours of duty in Iraq of about 1500 more soldiers, mainly in aviation units, because of the complexity of a massive rotation of forces over the next few months. 

A defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the soldiers would have their year-long tours extended, some for as little as five days and others for as long as 60 days. 

About 1500 soldiers will have
their year-long tours extended

The units involved were a mixed batch, but army aviation units would be the most affected by the extensions, because their departure depended on replacement units being in the country and ready to take over, he said. 

The Pentagon had promised to try not to leave soldiers in Iraq
for more than a year. But with nearly 250,000 soldiers rotating into and coming out of Iraq over the next few months, planners are having to make adjustments, the official said. 

Last week, "stop-loss" orders were issued to prevent about 7000 troops in Iraq from leaving the military until their units returned home.