US rejects Putin's Iraq timetable call

The United States has rejected Russian President Vladimir Putin's call to set a timetable for pulling its troops out of Iraq and withheld comment on his proposal for an international conference.

    Vladimir Putin (L) met Jordan's King Abdullah on Thursday

    State Department spokesman Sean McCormack on Thursday echoed President

    George Bush's refusal to lay out a calendar for withdrawing the

    138,000 American troops battling an uprising 28 months after the

    removal of Saddam Hussein.

    "As Iraqis stand up their capabilities, we and the multinational

    forces will be able to stand down," McCormack stated.

    "We have a robust training programme for Iraqi police and security

    forces that's progressing under the leadership of General [David]

    Petraeus working very closely with the Iraqis."

    Putin told reporters after meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah II

    earlier on Thursday that "we deem it necessary to work out a schedule

    for the staged withdrawal of foreign troops" in Iraq.

    Perception

    "Many Iraqis perceive these forces as occupying forces, and this

    is a reality that should be taken into account," the Russian leader

    said.

    "Many Iraqis perceive these forces as occupying forces, and this is a reality that should be taken into account"


    Vladimir Putin,
    Russian president

    He also said an international conference this year "would give a

    new impulse to the normalisation of the situation" in the

    war-battered country.

    But McCormack withheld a response on that, saying: "I haven't seen

    President Putin's comments so I haven't had a chance to take a look

    at them and analyse what our thoughts on that might be."

    The spokesman added that a Russian delegation already attended

    an international conference on Iraqi reconstruction that was held in B

    russels on 22 June.

    SOURCE: AFP


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