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Iraq's al-Maliki: Iraqi Forces to Handle Most Security by 2008


22 May 2006

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says Iraqi forces will take over security from foreign troops across most of the country by the end of this year.

Mr. Maliki, speaking at a joint press conference in Baghdad with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, said the security handover will start with two provinces next month.

He says other provinces will be transferred to Iraqi security forces gradually -- except for Baghdad and al-Anbar which have seen the most violence.

Mr. Blair says Iraq's new national unity government is a new beginning for the country. He says the conflict in Iraq was longer and harder than expected.

During Mr. Blair's surprise visit, two car bomb attacks in Baghdad killed at least six people.

Officials say Mr. Blair will visit Washington in the coming days for talks with President Bush on Iraq.



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