VARIOUS: Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says he hopes Iraqi troops ready to take over security by...
- Title: VARIOUS: Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says he hopes Iraqi troops ready to take over security by end of year
- Date: 17th July 2007
- Summary: (BN09) KIRKUK, IRAQ (JULY 16, 2007)(REUTERS) VARIOUS OF BURNING CARS AND DESTRUCTION AT SCENE OF KIRKUK BLAST
- Reuters ID: LVA8ON3D7ZO9XGCNVKMQVNDYDJF7
- Duration: 00:00:09
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- Topics: International Relations
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- Story Text: Iraq's Prime Minister says he expects Iraqi troops to be ready to take over security in the country from U.S.-led forces by the end of the year, while a former Iraqi prime minister has warned U.S. withdrawal would spell even more disaster for the war-torn country.
"I hope this year will be the end of the building of our forces so they are prepared to take control of security," Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told the American television network NBC in an interview.
"This needs the cooperation of everyone involved, both us and the coalition forces," he continued.
In comments made to journalists in Baghdad over the weekend, al-Maliki had said Iraq will be ready to take over security from U.S. forces "any time" they decide to withdraw, although its police and army still need more training.
In the latest devastating attack, a suicide truck bomb killed at least 85 people on Monday (July 16) in a busy market in the city of Kirkuk, where tensions are already high between the various ethnic groups that claim the city as their own.
And the violence that kills hundreds of people every week will only get worse in the months ahead and Iraq is on the verge of deeper disaster, the country's first post-Saddam prime minister said on Monday.
Iyad Allawi, who headed Iraq's post-invasion government for six months from June 2004, said he saw little sign that sectarianism or terrorism would die down soon, and that he feared U.S. troops would start to withdraw next year.
"The country is slipping into more chaos, more sectarianism and more divisions," Allawi, who now spends much of his time in London, told Reuters in an interview.
"The bloodshed is becoming appalling and unacceptable, and frankly I cannot see the political process continuing as it is now because the country is on the verge of a big disaster.
"The insurgency is stronger than ever, and it's getting stronger, and it's going to go on getting stronger. I think what we see now is less than what we will see in a few months ... Reconciliation is further away than at any time in the past."
Allawi, a former member of Saddam's Baath party who went into exile for nearly 30 years during Saddam's rule and returned as an ally of the United States, said he expected U.S. troops to start pulling out next year.
A U.S. withdrawal "will become imminent next year; it's going to take place in any case", Allawi said.
U.S. President George W. Bush has urged critics to await a report in September assessing the effect on security in Iraq of a 'surge' of roughly 30,000 extra U.S. troops.
Allawi, a political moderate who eschews religious sectarianism, said he was now spending much of his time in discussions with Arab leaders and the United Nations to try to get more Security Council involvement in Iraq.
He is due to go with a delegation to see U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in the "coming weeks" to explore what greater role the Security Council can play, especially as U.S. troops begin to withdraw.
"I think it's very difficult now to pull out at this stage. But I think the Americans, the United States should ask the United Nations and the Security Council to be more involved in Iraq in addressing the various problems under the auspices of the United Nations and the Security Council," Allawi said.
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- Embargoed:1st August 2007 13:00