Iraqi forces to take charge in months

Iraqi forces could take charge of most of the country's security by December and all foreign troops may be gone within four years, the new Iraqi prime minister and aides of the visiting British prime minister have said.

    Blair met al-Maliki two days after the Iraqi leader was sworn in

    But although he showed support for Nuri al-Maliki by flying in two days after a unity government of Shia, Sunnis and Kurds was sworn in, Tony Blair would not be drawn on deadlines.

    Blair told a joint news conference with al-Maliki in Baghdad

    on Monday.

    "What we want to see in Iraq is a sovereign and independent nation ... with Iraqis in control of every aspect, including their security."

    A senior official with Blair said Britain hoped all combat troops would leave during the new government's four-year term.

    "The aim is to take Iraq to a position where the multinational force is able to withdraw during its period in office," he said, in the firmest such comment yet from one of the two main Western allies on Iraq.

    More training needed

    But al-Maliki said Iraqis needed more training and equipment and conceded that a profusion of forces posed a risk of civil war.

    He did say, however, that two British-run southern provinces, Muthanna and Amara, could be handed to Iraqi security forces next month.

    And a statement issued by the Iraqi and British governments said that "by the end of this year, responsibility for much of Iraq's territorial security should have been transferred to Iraqi control".

    Only Baghdad and al-Anbar, where a US marine was killed on Sunday, would be left under US control by December, al-Maliki said.

    Two bomb attacks killed nine people in Baghdad while Blair visited on Monday. At least 20 other violent deaths were reported around the country. Officials say dozens of people are killed daily.

    "It's been longer and harder than any of us would have wanted it to be, but this is a new beginning," said Blair.

    SOURCE: Reuters


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Lost childhoods: Nigeria's fear of 'witchcraft' ruins young lives

    Lost childhoods: Nigeria's fear of 'witchcraft' ruins young lives

    Many Pentecostal churches in the Niger Delta offer to deliver people from witchcraft and possession - albeit for a fee.

    The priceless racism of the Duke of Edinburgh

    The priceless racism of the Duke of Edinburgh

    Prince Philip has done the world an extraordinary service by exposing the racist hypocrisy of "Western civilisation".

    Why a hipster, vegan, green tech economy is not sustainable

    Why a hipster, vegan, green tech economy is not sustainable

    Improving eco-efficiency within a capitalist growth-oriented system will not save the environment.