BAGHDAD -- Iraq's prime minister said Monday his country wants some type of timetable for a withdrawal of American troops included in the deal the two countries are negotiating.

It was the first time that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has explicitly and publicly called for a withdrawal timetable -- an idea opposed by President Bush.

He offered no details. But his national security adviser, Mouwaffak al-Rubaie, told The Associated Press that the government is proposing a timetable conditioned on the ability of Iraqi forces to provide security.

In Washington, the State Department declined to comment on the ongoing negotiations and said officials in Washington were not yet entirely sure what al-Maliki had said.

"This falls in the category of ongoing negotiations, and I'm not going to talk about every single development, every single development in the negotiations," spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.

MIAMI -- Hurricane Bertha has strengthened to a Category 3 storm.

The Atlantic season's first hurricane is still far from land, but the National Hurricane Center says it now has maximum sustained winds of 115 miles an hour.

The center of the storm is located about 730 miles east-northeast of the Northern Leeward Islands and about 1,150 miles southeast of Bermuda.

TOYAKO, Japan -- Dmitry Medvedev called the American president "George" and offered him birthday congratulations. He gave a heartfelt thanks to French leader Nicolas Sarkozy for phoning just hours after he won Russia's presidential vote.

Medvedev warmed up to Western leaders at a Group of Eight summit in Hokkaido, Japan, in his most prominent international appearance as since his inauguration two months ago as Russian president.

But four face-to-face meetings in a fog-shrouded hilltop hotel brought no discernible changes in Russia's stance on a slew of issues that strained ties with the West under Medvedev's predecessor, Vladimir Putin.

The opening day of the summit of the G-8 nations brought Medvedev's first meetings with Sarkozy, Bush and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown since he took over from Putin. He met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel for the second time, after making Germany his first Western destination as president.

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