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Obama needs to clarify exit from Iraq: US report

world Updated: Mar 25, 2009 12:31 IST

President Barack Obama needs to clarify what he means by promising a "responsible" withdrawal of US forces from Iraq, an independent US auditor's report said.

"The new administration has emphasised the importance of a responsible drawdown of US forces but has not yet defined this term," said yesterday the report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress.

Last month, Obama announced a new approach in Iraq in which most of the 140,000 US combat troops there would be withdrawn by the end of August 2010.

A force of up to 50,000 would remain until the end of 2011, when an agreement between Baghdad and Washington requires all US troops to leave.

"In further defining this strategy and revising the Joint Campaign Plan for Iraq, the administration will need to clarify what conditions need to be met to undertake this drawdown responsibly," said the GAO report.

The administration should be "prioritising the conditions that would allow US troops to draw down" and "should also consider how the United States would respond if it does not achieve the conditions necessary for a responsible drawdown within the security agreement timetable" agreed by the United States and Iraq.