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The end of the line for the U.S. in Iraq

Saturday, October 22, 2011 - 03:23

Oct. 22 - Pull out of U.S. troops to be completed by year's-end says Iraq PM. Deborah Lutterbeck reports

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Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki confirmed Saturday that American troops will withdraw from Iraq as scheduled at the end of the year. SOUNDBITE: Iraq Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, saying (Arabic): "(We agreed) yesterday on renewing the commitment between Iraq and the United States to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq in their entirety, according to the schedule of pullout that was signed between the two countries and will end by this end of this year. This joint commitment that we have confirmed many times and we are obliged to finish, is considered a success for both states and people as well." After months of negotiations officials in Baghdad failed to reach an agreement to keep possibly thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq as trainers. All 40,000 U.S. troops will now leave by the end of the year. Not everyone in Iraq welcomed the news. SOUNDBITE: Iraqi citizen Abdullah al-Agili, saying (Arabic): "The withdrawal was agreed in the past by the American government and the Iraqi government and set at the 31st of December 2011, it was not a surprise decision. As for my personal point of view, I like the presence of these forces because the Iraqi army is not ready and lacks professionalism. It's a weak army that has sectarian loyalties instead of loyalties to the country. Thus, the presence of these (American) forces is very necessary." Maliki said that Iraq still wants American help in training Iraqi forces to use military equipment Baghdad is buying from the United States but diplomatic immunity would not be granted. Enroute to Indonesia U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta kept the door open for U.S. troops in Iraq SOUNDBITE: U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, saying (English): "With regards to Baghdad and to Iraq, that remains to be worked out. Once we completed the reduction of the combat presence, then I think we begin a process of negotiating with them, in order to determine what would be the nature of that relationship, what kind of training do they need The prospect of extending the troop presence is very sensitive for Iraq's fractured political elite. Maliki heads a tenuous coalition including politicians vehemently opposed to foreign troops. U.S. President Barack Obama, eyeing a 2012 re-election campaign likely to be fought over his handling of the U.S. economy, is looking to wind down a decade of war in the Muslim world that did lasting damage to the U.S. image worldwide and stretched its military and budget to the brink. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters

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The end of the line for the U.S. in Iraq

Saturday, October 22, 2011 - 03:23