"We would like the multinational forces to remain in Iraq for some time until Iraq is capable of handling its own security problems," he told BBC's Breakfast with Frost programme on Sunday.

He gave no time frame but said he hoped this would be achieved "as quickly as possible".

Allawi also said he backs a UN resolution on the transfer of sovereignty to the new government. He said the resolution currently being debated by the UN would help "secure Iraq from its enemies", the BBC reported.

"We'd like the UN to help us – we're adamant that multinational forces should be employed in Iraq."

Following controversy over who would remain in ultimate control of US troops in Iraq after the handover of political power at the end of June, the BBC further reported that Allawi said although he did not like to use the word 'veto', "there should be co-operation on both offensive and defensive operations

Allawi's interim government was appointed in a process overseen by the United Nations.

It has seven months to make its mark before Iraqis get their say in national elections in January. It formally takes over from occupation authorities on 30 June.