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Rivals agree on Iraq

world Updated: Apr 17, 2008 23:04 IST

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, locked in a fierce contest for Democratic presidential nomination, have asserted that they would stand by their commitment to begin removing combat troops from Iraq shortly after election and try to build a wider security alliance in the region.

Facing off in a debate, which at times turned bitter, Obama said his policy would also take into account the rising Al Qaeda activities in Pakistan and Afghanistan while pulling troops off Iraq.

But Hillary was more cautious in the reply, stressing that while her decision to pull off troops is firm, she would listen to the advice of field commanders on the tactics of withdrawing the soldiers and equipment which is complicated logistically.

She would ask the commanders to give a timetable within 60 days on the withdrawal.

Replying to a question, she said the president as commander-in-chief makes the policy decision which the armed forces carry out as they had done admirably in Iraq despite the decision being “wrong”. But it is for the commanders to decide the strategy to use and for that the president has to listen to them.

In a debate hosted by ABC television, the two firmly said they would stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and talked of building a wider alliance of nations in West Asia to achieve that aim. Hillary also spoke about giving a security umbrella so that others in the region do not think of making atomic bombs.