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Talabani: Early Pullout Of Coalition Troops 'Catastrophic'

6 October 2005 -- Iraqi President Jalal Talabani met with Prime Minister Tony Blair in London today for talks focused on next week's referendum on Iraq's draft constitution.

Following their meeting, the two leaders held a joint press conference during which Talabani said an early pullout by U.S.-led troops from Iraq would be "catastrophic" for the country.

Blair said British troops will stay in Iraq for as long as requested.

The British premier also said new explosive devices used against coalition forces in Iraq led either to Iran or to the Iran-backed Shi'ite militant group Hizbollah.

"What is clear is that there have been new explosive devices used, not just against British troops, but elsewhere in Iraq. The particular nature of those devices lead us either to Iranian elements or to Hizbollah because they are similar to devices used by Hizbollah that is funded and supported by Iran. However, we cannot be sure of this at the present time," Blair said.

Blair's comments came one day after a senior British official accused Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp of actively colluding in the smuggling of weapons into Iraq, which were later used in attacks that killed eight British soldiers. Iran denies the allegation.

(Agencies)

Copyright (c) 2005. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org



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