US should leave as soon as possible: Iraqi leader | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 21, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, July 21, 2008

US should leave as soon as possible: Iraqi leader

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says US troops should leave Iraq "as soon as possible," according to a magazine report, and he called presidential candidate Barack Obama's suggestion of 16 months "the right timeframe for a withdrawal."
In Baghdad, however, the chief spokesman for al-Maliki issued a statement Sunday saying the prime minister's comments were "not conveyed accurately" by Germany's Der Spiegel magazine.
Spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said al-Maliki did not endorse a specific timetable but instead discussed a "an Iraqi vision" of US troop withdrawals based on negotiations with Washington and "and in the light of the continuing positive developments on the ground."
The Der Spiegel article, released Saturday, quoted al-Maliki as giving apparent backing to the withdrawal plans discussed by Obama the Illinois senator and likely Democratic nominee has pledged to withdraw combat troops from Iraq within 16 months if he is elected.
"That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes," al-Maliki was quoted as saying. "Those who operate on the premise of short time periods in Iraq today are being more realistic. Artificially prolonging the tenure of US troops in Iraq would cause problems."
Asked when US forces would leave Iraq, he responded, "As soon as possible, as far a we're concerned."
In the interview, al-Maliki said he was not seeking to endorse Obama.
Sadiq al-Rikabi, an adviser to al-Maliki, said later that Iraqi officials do not intend to be "part of the electoral campaign in the United States."
"We will deal with any administration that comes to power," he said.
White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said Saturday: "In the interview, the Prime Minister made clear that any decision will be based on continuing positive developments as he and the president both did in their joint statement yesterday. It is our shared view that should the recent security gains continue, we will be able to meet our joint aspirational time horizons.”

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