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US Reiterates Opposition to 'Arbitrary' Iraq Troop Pullout

By VOA News
09 July 2008

The Bush administration says it remains opposed to setting a date for withdrawal of U.S.-led forces from Iraq that is not based on conditions in the country.

A White House spokeswoman told reporters in Japan Wednesday that the U.S. has always been opposed to what she referred to as an "arbitrary" withdrawal date. She said Iraqi leaders agree with the U.S. stance that the decision must be based on conditions on the ground.

On Tuesday, Iraqi national security adviser Mouwaffak al-Rubaie said Baghdad will reject any security deal with Washington that does not include a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki publicly proposed a troop pullout timetable for the first time on Monday.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday Washington will continue reducing its troop presence in Iraq as Iraqi security forces get stronger. But, he says the pace of U.S. withdrawals will depend on Iraq's security situation.

U.S. military chief, Admiral Mike Mullen, visited Iraq's northern city of Mosul Tuesday and told the Associated Press security is "much better" in the former al-Qaida stronghold.

But, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff warned that if Iraqi authorities fail to implement political reforms and deliver services, he doubts that recent security gains in Mosul will make much difference.

Iraqi and U.S. forces conducted a security crackdown in Mosul recently that cleared insurgents from most of the city.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.



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