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Iraq elections 'significant milestone': US

world Updated: Jan 31, 2009 08:33 IST

US President Barack Obama will be watching the results in Iraq's elections which he sees as a "significant milestone" in the country's fledgling democracy, the White House has said.

"Obviously the president will watch the results, and believes that the provincial elections this weekend mark another significant milestone in Iraq's democratic development," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said yesterday.

Today's elections -- being held in 14 of the country's 18 provinces -- are seen as a key test of Iraq's steadily improving stability, as Obama looks to redeploy American troops to Afghanistan.

Gibbs also said that Obama over the past ten days has met with military advisers, the defense secretary, top military chiefs and commanders to discuss the outlook for US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I think the Pentagon said this, and it's true, that we expect that we'll have recommendations and decisions on moving forward on Iraq quite soon," Gibbs said.

As a presidential candidate Obama called for a 16-month timetable for the withdrawal of US combat troops from Iraq.

After a meeting this week with the heads of the joint chiefs of staff and the military services, Obama said there would be "some difficult decisions we're going to have to make surrounding Iraq and Afghanistan, most immediately.