US President George W Bush says he is making "good progress" on a new Iraq strategy, after talks with top aides.
Mr Bush has conceded the US is not winning in Iraq
Those attending included the vice president, defence secretary, secretary of state, chair of the joint chiefs of staff and national security adviser.
Mr Bush said more consultations were needed before he and his team made public their revised plans.
Earlier this week the US said it would send up to 3,300 soldiers to the Gulf in early January as a standby force.
That decision follows a recent report commissioned by the White House, which urged a temporary build-up of troops to quell increasing violence in Iraq.
Thursday's talks, at the president's ranch in Texas, were described as "a non decision-making meeting", and Mr Bush took no questions from reporters after his brief remarks.
"The key to success in Iraq is to have a government that's willing to deal with the elements that are trying to prevent this young democracy from succeeding," he said.
A presidential speech is expected early in the New Year when Mr Bush will lay out his vision of the way forward.
The BBC's Adam Brookes, in Washington, says that in stark terms, Mr Bush must choose between gradually withdrawing from Iraq or staying and launching a renewed effort to achieve his goals there.
In recent weeks, the signals coming from the White House have been that he favours staying and fighting on, our correspondent says.
ISG REPORT - KEY POINTS
Primary mission of US forces should evolve to one of supporting Iraqi army
By first quarter of 2008... all combat brigades not necessary for force protection could be out of Iraq
US must not make open-ended commitment to keep large numbers of American troops deployed in Iraq
Source: ISG report
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It is not known which other recommendations from the report by the Iraq Study Group the president might adopt.
Among dozens of suggestions, it urged dialogue with Iran and Syria - which has already been rejected.
The war in Iraq has been described as one of the main reasons Republicans lost control of Congress in November's mid-term elections.
The president last week conceded that the US was not winning in Iraq.
In recent months, attacks on US and Iraqi troops, as well as civilians, have reached their highest level since power was handed over to an interim Iraqi government in June 2004.
There are about 140,000 troops currently posted in Iraq, with a reserve force kept in neighbouring Kuwait for speedy deployment.