Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Iraq asks for pullout timetable

Iraq's prime minister has for the first time publicly called for a US troop withdrawal timetable.

Nuri al-Maliki said on Monday that a military agreement the two countries are negotiating should include provisions for the withdrawal of American troops.

In a meeting with Arab ambassadors in the United Arab Emirates on Monday, al-Maliki said Iraq had proposed a short-term interim memorandum of agreement rather than the more formal status of forces agreement the two sides have been negotiating.

"Negotiations are ongoing with the US side and the current attitude is to reach a memorandum of understanding either for immediate US forces withdrawal or timetable withdrawal," he said on Monday.

The memorandum "now on the table" includes a formula for the withdrawal of US troops, he said.

"The goal is to end the presence [of foreign troops]," al-Maliki said.

The Bush administration's response was muted, saying it was not negotiating for a "hard date" to withdraw its troops.

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