A Shi'ite politician considered a likely front-runner in the race for Iraq's prime minister says he would make ending violence his top priority and will not push for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Ibrahim al-Jaafari, leader of the Dawa Party, made the remark in an interview with the Associated Press Tuesday.

His party is part of the United Iraqi Alliance, which won 48 percent of the vote in last month's election for an interim National Assembly.

Earlier, another top Shi'ite candidate withdrew from the race for prime minister. The party representing interim Finance Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said it withdrew his name to preserve unity in the United Iraqi Alliance.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military says an American soldier was killed in action Tuesday in the restive Anbar province, west of Baghdad.

Insurgents in Iraq have released a videotape showing a kidnapped Italian journalist pleading for her life and appealing for the withdrawal of foreign troops.

In the footage shown on Italian television today (Wednesday), Giuliana Sgrena begged the Italian people to put pressure on the government to pull out of Iraq.

A label on the tape read "Mujahedeen without borders" in Arabic script. It was not immediately clear when the tape was made.

The reporter for a Rome-based newspaper (Il Manifesto) was seized February 4 while conducting interviews on a street near Baghdad University.