Maliki says US can leave Iraq in 2011
BAGHDAD — Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said yesterday that an agreement requiring US troops to leave by the end of 2011 will stand because Iraqi forces are capable of taking care of the country’s security.
The comments are his first on the subject since being tasked with forming a new government after nearly nine months of political deadlock, and some of his strongest to date on what is expected to be a key issue facing the next government.
“The security agreement with what it included of dates and commitments will remain valid, and I do not feel the need for the presence of any other international forces to help Iraqis control the security situation,’’ Maliki said during his first news conference since getting the formal request on Thursday to form the new government.
All American troops are to leave the country by the end of 2011. The United States currently has a little less than 50,000 troops in Iraq, down from a one-time high of 170,000.
American officials have said they will abide by the agreement, although they would consider any request by the new Iraqi government to stay longer.