Representative Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican, has written more than 1300 letters of condolence to the families of soldiers killed in Iraq and will introduce legislation this week calling for a firm timetable on the withdrawal of US troops, ABC's This Week said on Sunday.

"This is what I believe is the right thing to do for our military first; and secondly, I think we are doing everything we can do in Iraq to give them an opportunity to have a democracy, to defend themselves," Jones told ABC.

President George Bush's administration has refused to set a timetable on withdrawing its forces from the war-torn country.

Emotional reasons

Asked about his change of heart on the war, Jones said he had attended two years ago the funeral of a soldier, a married father of three, who was killed in Iraq.

The death toll has been preying
on the senator's mind

"That really has been on my mind and my heart ever since," he said.

He added: "When I look at the number of men and women who have been killed - it is almost 1700 now, in addition to close to 12,000 have been severely wounded - and I just feel that the reason of going in for weapons of mass destruction, the ability of the Iraqis to make a nuclear weapon, that's all been proven that it was never there.

"And my heart aches, quite frankly," Jones said.

In March 2003, just before the US-led invasion of Iraq, Representative Bob Ney, chairman of the committee on House Administration, ordered that the term French fries be removed from all restaurant menus in the three government office buildings and replaced with freedom fries.

Jones joined Ney in taking the action, issuing a joint statement saying: "This action today is a small, but symbolic effort to show the strong displeasure of many on Capitol Hill with the actions of our so-called ally, France."