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'Iraq PM seeks withdrawal of US troops by '10'

world Updated: Jul 22, 2008 09:33 IST

AFP
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US presidential hopeful Barack Obama said on Monday that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has expressed his support for a pullout of US troops from Iraq by 2010, in a statement released by the Democrat's senate office in Washington.

"The prime minister said that now is an appropriate time to start to plan for the reorganization of our troops in Iraq -- including their numbers and missions. He stated his hope that US combat forces could be out of Iraq in 2010," said Obama in a joint statment released with fellow senators Jack Reed and Chuck Hagel, during their stopover in Iraq while on a tour of the Middle East and Europe.

"Iraqis want an aspirational timeline, with a clear date, for the redeployment of American combat forces," the statement added.

"Prime Minister Maliki told us that while the Iraqi people deeply appreciate the sacrifices of American soldiers, they do not want an open-ended presence of US combat forces," the US senators wrote.

"The prime minister said that now is an appropriate time to start to plan for the reorganization of our troops in Iraq -- including their numbers and missions."

The trio added that Iraqis, while wanting a departure of US forces, "seek a long-term partnership with the United States to promote political and economic progress and lasting stability."

The US lawmakers continued: "America has a strategic opportunity to build a new kind of partnership with Iraq and to refocus our foreign policy on the many other pressing challenges around the world, starting with the resurgence of al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan."

Obama met Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and President Jalal Talabani in Baghdad after traveling to Iraq as part of a congressional fact-finding delegation.

His visit comes days after he confirmed he would withdraw most of the American troops in Iraq if he is elected president in November.