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Iraqi FM sees Obama continuing Bush policy

world Updated: Jan 08, 2009 14:46 IST

US president-elect Barack Obama, who opposed the 2003 war on Iraq, is likely to continue foreign policies of President George W Bush, Iraq's foreign minister predicted in interview published on Thursday.

"There won't be a radical change or a rapid break," Hoshyar Zebari told the pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat in an interview, adding that the incoming US leader would be guided by a security pact signed between Baghdad and Washington.

"...The security pact between the two countries has outlined relations between them for the next three years," Zebari said, adding that he had already been in communication with members of the newly-elected Democratic government.

"The message we received is one of continuity. Perhaps there would be change in the focus or the tasks of the troops and some policy elements -- but not in the overall policy," he said.

Washington, which has 146,000 soldiers in Iraq, signed a bilateral agreement with Baghdad in November, allowing its combat forces to remain in the country until the end of 2011.

"The withdrawal agreement has served the (upcoming) Obama administration very well because it has laid out a ready-made agreement to deal with the situation in the Iraq," Zebari said.

Obama, who takes office on January 20, has vowed to pull one or two combat brigades out of Iraq every month over 16 months, with only a residual security force of unspecified size remaining.