Highlights of an interview that General Petraeus gave to CNN's Late Edition earlier today (not verbatim):
> Troop withdrawals have begun. US troop numbers have fallen from 170,000 at the surge's peak to 160,000 now. 30,000 more will have been withdrawn by end-July. Further reductions will depend on an assessment of the situation as it then stands. We must not jeopardise what we have fought so hard to achieve.
> We are keenly aware of the stresses that the commitments to Iraq and Afghanistan are causing America's soldiers. We want to reduce troop numbers as quickly as possible to reduce that strain.
> Iraqi troops are increasingly shouldering the burden of the nation's defence. They are now experiencing three times the level of casualties as US forces.
> Asked when Iraq would be able to shoulder its security responsibilities he said there would be no 'light switch' moment. It was more appropriate to think in terms of a rheostat.
> Nine of 18 provinces are now under provincial Iraqi control.
> The State Department is in the lead in negotiating a 'status of forces' agreement with Iraq for the future operation of US troops in the nation "over a period of years". This presence would be much smaller in scale than at present.
> There is some political progress including contentious issues like agreement on a new flag and pension provision for people previously un-provided for.
> 15,000 Iranians came into Iraq last week for Shia religious festivals and mounted tour buses. Many told Petraeus as he met them how much they liked America.
The verbatim transcript of the interview will eventually appear here.